Sunday, July 15, 2012

Political Dysfunction Analyzed

Public domain photo from LibraryThing.Com

Here’s how a couple of Independents (one a former Republican and the other a former Democrat) look at current political dysfunction!
by Charlie Leck

A very important opinion page column showed up this morning in our local Sunday newspaper. The authors are Tim Penny and Tom Horner. Now Independents, they were both very strong and loyal members of the major parties until, heavens, the Tea Party and the Radical Right came along and drove them out. You see, Penny and Horner still believe in a quaint political idea that says compromise works.

Horner is a public relations and advertising professional who was chief of staff to former U.S. Senator David Durenberger (Republican, Minnesota). Penny is currently the President and C.E.O. of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. He was formerly a Democratic member of Congress.

The thesis (or main point) of their argument seems to be that it won’t do us any good to defeat and throw out the incumbents in the House of Representatives and the Senate. What has to happen is that Congress itself needs to be thoroughly changed; for “Congress is broken.”

“We can vote against incumbents, but that only places new legislators in a system that does not work. We think these reforms would help legislators get their jobs done on time while diminishing special-interest influence. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?”

The two guys writing this column come from the days when I could appreciate a good politician when I met one. They both have that unusual skill that enables them to listen to the other side of the story. And, heavens be praised, they talk a lot about the importance of compromise.

In this particular column, they present five steps that Congress could take to reform itself and make itself more productive (and even more fair). It’s worth taking a look at these ideas and thinking about them. Something has just got to be done to get this Congress under control. It is the most unproductive Congress in the nation’s history and “…68 percent of Americans would like to see the entire Congress replaced.”

Of course, this Congress will never act on these ideas (things like changing the filibuster rule, setting time deadlines on getting certain work done, taking action on Presidential nominations  within 90 days, and completing a budget proposal and adjourning for the summer before July 4; and, oh yes, comprehensive campaign financing reform). So, because they won’t do anything about the sad state of Congress, the bums have to be thrown out.

Personally, I’m part of the 68 percent that would like to see the entire Congress dumped so that we might begin again with fresh faces and unspoiled and less concretized opinions. If this Congress could really take Horner and Penny seriously, I’d be all for it, but I’m not holding my breath.

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