Vail Valley Voices: Different kind of revolution
Vail Valley Voices
People supporting the majority in Washington are saying Republicans are obstructionists, that they are pre-venting Democrats from leading and legislating.
In the past, I’ve felt that controlling federal legislation with a minority of 41 votes in one house of Congress was bad government. But, given that the two main political parties are so far apart philosophically, I now think the traditions of the Senate make sense and will prevent the federal government from making a horrible mistake.
Why is it sensible? How can a sys-tem that thwarts majority rule be good?
Frankly, the answer is it precludes violence and extreme behavior by members of the minority and their constituen-cies.
Look back in history.
After World War I, Ger-many was devastated. Its economy was in shambles, and the international community was determined to stifle future Germanic aggression and imperialism by placing numerous restrictions upon the government. The German people have always been a proud and nationalistic soci-ety, and they resented the actions of their conquerors.
So when a leader arose who was ultra- nationalistic, they were seduced by him and followed him blindly into another military debacle.
Hitler decided that he could more efficiently gain power by resorting to bigotry and violence directed at his opponents and minority groups rather than resorting to peaceful government and diplomat-ic compromise.
The French and American revolu-tions pitted oppressed people with no say in government against repres-sive monarchies. The French Bastille was a symbol of despotic rule in which the lower class was treated harshly in every way.
The response of the downtrodden was to storm the Bastille and guillo-tine the king and many of his aristo-cratic supporters.
In America, there was no peaceful recourse for the colonists against King George III. He unfairly taxed Americans without representation and subjected them to other forms of oppression that deprived them of basic human rights. The result – a violent struggle that led to the birth of a new nation.
In 2010, discontent has over-whelmed our country. Our citizens are very unhappy about so many things, including the economy, health care, immigration, education, energy policy, a dearth of leadership, arrogance of our elected officials, corruption at every level of govern-ment and so much more. Revolution is in the air as many people have lost
their homes, are unemployed and can’t feed their families. Yet, no sig-nificant group has endorsed violence or a “storming of the Capitol.”
The voters have indicated in recent polls that their elected leaders have fallen short of meeting their expecta-tions during these hard times. In an effort to save their seats, incumbents, the most vulnerable people in Wash-ington, have been scrambling, trying to get something done before mid-term elections in November. Voters are planning a great revolution at that time, which will take place in the election booth and not with fists and guns.
A revolution is under way, yet no one is being threatened physically. It’s a nonviolent revolution where parliamentary gamesmanship, diplo-macy and collegiality will ultimately determine whether anything gets done in Congress this year.
I’m proud that our country can deal with serious issues in such a rel-atively civil fashion, where the most extreme name one politician can call another is ” ideologue.” Let the politicians battle it out for the next few months using their oratory acu-men. Those who perform most effectively may keep their seats, and many, hopefully, will be voted out of office.
Our system works remarkably well. The Senate is doing its job as its mem-bers try to find compromise. If they can’t, legislation will be stymied, and then voters will react accordingly.
Power to the people.
Sal Bommarito is a novelist and fre-quent visitor to Vail during the past 20 years.