Those annoyed with the failure to jam through controversial legislation bemoan the “gridlock” and urge all manner of parliamentary tricksterism to get what they want — the passage of Obama’s radical agenda. But Rivkin and Casey remind us that this is precisely how the system is supposed to work. It was designed to make swift passage of ill-conceived measures difficult, by ”generally requiring a high level of consensus in support of governmental action.”
The Constitution sets up an intricate framework of checks and balances and the Senate “did the framers one better” with the filibuster, which the Left wants now to abolish. The result, the attorneys explain, is that “the government established by the U.S. Constitution, as well as the document itself, is ‘conservative.’ Its default is the status quo, unless and until the advocates of change can secure a sufficient consensus to support their idea.”
The failure then is not of the “system,” but rather of the Obami and of the congressional Democrats — in eschewing the center and trying to push through a far-reaching agenda with no popular consensus, and, indeed, in the face of a great deal of opposition.
But the critics claim that we are then “doomed” to do “nothing.” Well, sometimes nothing is better than something horrible. But there are two obvious responses.
First, come up with a shortlist of reforms that does enjoy bipartisan support.
And second, look to the states. In addition to federal checks and balances, the Framers set up a federal system with power reserved to state governments, which until recently had primary responsibility for issues such as education, health care, and public safety.
23 February 2010
The Constitution Is Working As Designed
Commentary: The System Is Working Exactly as Planned