Ever wonder why newly-liberated nations no longer use our constitution as a model for their first venture into self-government? Or what if George W. had had to defend his policies before Congress every week as the British prime minister does? Would there have been a war in Iraq?
The system that served us well during the post-colonial period and beyond is essentially rooted in its 18th century origins. Over time, it has become unwieldy, unrepresentative, undemocratic, divisive and disenfranchising in many cases. Its “winner-take-all” politics and shameless gerrymandering leaves substantial portions of the electorate underrepresented.
Is our legislative system broke?
Indeed it is.
We send our representatives to Washington to introduce, debate and vote on legislation, not to block bills from ever being debated or from ever coming to a vote. In the U.S. Senate, there have been more filibusters since 2006 than between 1920-80. More than 400 bills passed by the House now await Senate action, and more than 50 federal judicial benches are awaiting appointment approvals, while untold important government posts sit vacant because the Senate refuses to do what it is mandated to do.
The U.S. Constitution provides for Congress to periodically review and amend its rules and procedures.
That will happen six weeks after hell freezes over.
We need radical, systemic change, and we need it now. But the mere rewriting of some rules will not change a thing. Several constitutional amendments are necessary, and they will not come easy. But they will have to come from grass-roots initiatives, and not from Congress.
Are we up to the task?
George B. Reed, Jr., Rossville