S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Senate debate on Iraq must get off dead center

The United States government is acting out of kilter. The three co-equal branches are not behaving in balanced ways. The executive branch has been too active; legislators have been too inactive. The courts are increasingly conservative. At this moment, the chief executive - our current president - is ramping up the war in Iraq, and Congress seems paralyzed and unable to act in the nation's best interest. And no one has been able to take it to court.

Doing, not asking - Several years ago our current president decided to do something about Iraq. Mr. Bush and his administration were not indecisive. After all, they are the executive branch of government. They execute the laws that Congress has enacted. They are about Doing-$$$$$. They said, "Bring it on!" They marched out and invaded the country of Iraq.
It went downhill from there - Congress said, "OK, go ahead and do it." And now Iraq is a mess. And Congress was complicit in making that mess. And now they must do something to help clean it up. They have a choice in what to do about the escalation of the war. Congress cannot have it both ways and opt out. The constitution dictates the role for the legislative branch of government. The nature of the institution is to DO, rather than NOT DO.

Soldiers do not have a choice about doing their patriotic duty. Military officers pick a direction and the troops march out and courageously do what is required. Sometimes it means going on patrol; sometimes it requires digging in and taking a stand. And it is much more dangerous than stepping up to a podium.
The Senate owes the nation no less courageous action. Just like the armed forces, Senators are in the business of serving the nation. The Senate, however, legislates more slowly than the House, and more deliberatively. (The best illustration of this difference was the recent rapid, and often bipartisan, adoption of the "First One Hundred Hours" agenda of the House of Representatives.) But it is no longer the beginning of the session. And every day Iraq takes more of its terrible toll.

Ironically Congress is on the ascendency. November's election results were decisive. The people's approval of our current president is at an all-time low. Now it is time for the upper branch of congress, the Senate, to do something about the war in Iraq. Senators in both parties must debate the various pending resolutions; they must take stands. The people they represent want them to pick a direction and do their duty.
It should not be that hard to act. The majority rules and the minority has rights. No Senator's opponent is the enemy. Each has the equalizing power of one vote. Time for debate is divided equally. Speakers take turns. The presiding officer keeps order. Everything is in place for the debate, but it is not happening.

This sign just stops me. It makes me crazy. It epitomizes the biggest internal conflict this nation has faced in many years, the congressional debate over the war in Iraq. It symbolizes the irresistable force meeting the immovable object. It represents stalemate, ambivalence and indecision. It says "Go this way! No, go that way! Do this; no, do that." There must be a sign like this on the way to Capitol Hill.
Now let us - and them - just get to it. Let the Senators who serve your state know what you think about the war, even if you are on the opposite side of the question. They represent both their own consciences and the people who elected them. They need to step out there and take a shot at it.

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moville said...

Very good post, and I agree that people need to keep the pressure on their representatives in congress. In a system like this one, where the executive holds most of the cards in matters of war and peace, it's especially important to wage a determined campaign in the congress and other public forums. It was a lot of those "damned peaceniks" in the streets day after day after day that changed the country's mind, and then the congress's, about Vietnam.

Carol Gee said...

It is a cumbersome, time-consuming, frustrating and fool-proof way to make change happen. And it will happen sooner or later.
Thanks for the comment, and good luck with your new group blog. Looks interesting.