Congressional Rules Are Not the Problem — Petty Partisanship Is

The intricacies of lawmaking have long sowed discord among the public, as majority parties rise and fall alongside elected representatives who have occupied the revered Oval Office. Time appears only to ingrain party lines on Capitol Hill and beyond, giving rise to clauses covertly affixing themselves to complex bills, filibusters that are anything but fleeting, and legislature tuned so finely in order to meet the demands of its opponents, their original purpose is indecipherable.

Yet, this is the democratic process laid down by the nation’s forefathers: a glorified battle for the freedoms and liberties denied to the colonists that gave way to yellowed parchment scrawled with inky black, and out of which the United States was born.

Though the faulty mechanisms and rusty joints of Congress persist, sometimes lacking in their effectiveness, the majority of the norms and traditions of Congress symbolize the universal ideals of a democratic government and uphold the principle of free speech.

Despite the pendulum of power that sways ever so subtly as the winds shift up on the Hill, these very institutions prove a panacea that prevents this nation from rescinding the rights of its people and relinquishing its values in the face of power run amok.

Fierce partisan loyalty-a barrier against efficient legislative activity-is a force to be reckoned with. And it is, assisted by the deliberate procedures of Congress and the manner in which its members conduct floor debates and committees. Various rules of Congress, both in the Senate and the House-the power of recognition, minority and majority leaders, the filibuster, cloture rule, legislative hearings and so forth- fuse as one to prevent the tipping of the delicate balance between Democratic and Republican influence to one side or the other.

Despite the tedious nature of simply allowing a bill to be open to debate, these regulations have an essential purpose- one often lost in the cacophony of frustration and scrutiny of congressional incompetence.

Without these roadblocks to swift passage of legislation, if the practices impeding majority supremacy over the entirety of the legislative process were eradicated, then this nation renounces its democratic ideals and principles that embolden the country and render it a glimmering symbol of hope for humanity.

To rescind the capabilities of Congress to function as a bipartisan whole, rather than a tyranny whose majority party members cede to the will of the executive branch, would only diminish the voice of the public in legislative influence. 

It would result in nothing less than enslavement to the whims of a single politician who basks in the Oval Office- by our hands alone.

The filibuster, the very epitome of democracy, is a leading issue of contention amidst the growing disgruntled belief in bureaucratic incompetence.

A practice in which a member of Congress may withhold the passage of a bill using diversion tactics and, in some cases, prolonged passionate monologues, critics of an ostensibly sedate Congress have honed in on the filibuster as a practice that perfectly encapsulates all that hinders lawmakers.

These flimsy accusations of a tactic that encourages corruption, are actually the very things that assist in preventing Congress from actually making laws- deepening the divides between party lines. The arguments lack substance in that their sole motivation is to undermine the opposing party- often whoever occupies the minority position at the time.

That’s not to say it is a tactic utilized specifically by the current majority; criticism of the filibuster has arose from both Republicans and Democrats throughout history. Vilification of the filibuster has evolved into a prevalent position of society’s journalists and politicians- a sort of blanket blame so that society may ignore the true root of legislative ineffectiveness and the deepening partisan lines.

Arguing against a vital tool in checking the balance of power within Congress, and deeming it a hindrance to efficacy simply for the sake of a petty grudge against one’s contenders, is nothing more than a stance blinded by a thirst for power and the simmering hatred characterizing the feud between party lines. 

Of the vast array of tools available to congressional members, the true culprit is budgetary reconciliation: a process that disparages the value of democratic institutions in permitting bills affiliated with monetary policy to bypass the very regulations embedded in the legislative process to thwart unchecked power.

The democratic process, though viewed an everlasting American institution, is the very reason for which the United States remains an emblem of justice and liberty. The norms and procedures of Congress, degraded by its critics, prove impenetrable defenders of democratic values.

Above all, we must take heed of the partisanship that threatens to divide us, and realize it for the threat to democracy that it is.

Abstract assumptions born out of petty partisanship must not be permitted to diminish the valiant voice of the people. 

Photo: Anusha B

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