Is America still 'ungovernable'?
"Ungovernable" is what certain liberal elites call our nation when their agenda does not slide through undisturbed by constitutional strictures, Senate rules and the popular will. Conservatives such as Charles Krauthammer and Pete Wehner have scoffed, understandably so, at the notion that not getting one's way amounts to a dysfunctional political system.
I'd argue that American democracy has never functioned better. Oh, I know the No Labels movement will tell you it's all awful and we can't solve our problems. and liberal elites (until they assemble their own 501c4 organizations) will tell you the system is "corrupted" by big money (but not by George Soros's loot, since he's a totally different situation, right?). But let's get real here. We've just seen a huge grassroots movement demonstrate that incumbency is no guarantee of re-election. That election immediately translated into a new agenda for the White House, a bipartisan tax deal, and the defeat of a noxious omnibus spending bill. Isn't this exactly how democracy is supposed to work?
Whether you favor the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" or the DREAM Act, the outcome of these bills was determined by bipartisan majorities in the U.S. Senate. And whether you like the Tea Party agenda or not, it has forced a sea change in the Republican Party and made progress on entitlement reform more than a pipe dream. What's more, bipartisan groups came out with credible debt-reduction (Simpson-Bowles) and entitlement-reform (Ryan-Rivlin) plans, suggesting that there are, in fact, lots of political players willing to make compromises.
In 2012, we're going to have GOP presidential primaries with a dozen or so candidates and a nationwide referendum on ObamaCare, the Bush tax cuts (again) and the appropriate size and scope of government. And oh yes, the federal judiciary -- the very institution that the left has relied upon to opine on every social and political issue -- is going to tell us how far the Commerce Clause will stretch. And like it or hate it, everyone will respect the Supreme Court's ruling. (Unless the entire matter is rendered moot by a repeal or fundamental reworking of the statute.)
Our political system -- messy, contentious, divisive and wondrously democratic -- is to be celebrated. Conservatives didn't say America was "ungovernable" when Barack Obama was elected; they got to work challenging their opponents' philosophy and finding excellent, electable candidates. Maybe liberals should do the same and lay off the Constitution and their fellow citizens. Besides, if all the Obama legislation is so "historic," how can our system be broken? Just asking.
| December 21, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories: 2012 campaign, Budget
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