Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Reply to an Anonymous SLCSPIN Blogger

The following is my indelicate response to an anonymous blogger's challenging question on SLCSPIN:

Dear Anonymous,

Let me see if I understand you correctly: In response to most of the beltway pundit's assertions, that I have heard, claiming that a lame duck President Bush will not be able to get any major piece of legislation "THAT HE WOULD WANT" through this Congress, you come back with "passing a budget" and "renewing No Child Left Behind" as examples of things he would need to sacrifice the Constitution to achieve?

Wow! That's quite a trade off, isn't it?

I do not mean to make fun of you, my friend, but please try to remember that the Democrats also need to pass a budget. And, they already want to renew most of the provisions of No Child Left Behind. So, your argument is not persuasive.

And, in fairness to the all-wise pundit class, they are talking about LEGACY type pieces of legislation, not house cleaning items. They claim that the administration acknowledges that its legacy will be the War in Iraq. History, they say, will judge the President by what he is able to salvage from this immensely difficult situation. Thus, his administration is supposedly going to set aside any futile attempt to pass new landmark legislation, and focus its energies on stabilizing Iraq sufficiently to sustain a face saving withdrawal for the US.

These same pundits tell us that the Democrats also see such a withdrawal from Iraq as being where their mandate lies. Thus, neither will they entertain delusions of liberal grandeur in seeking to pass all kinds of Great Society type legislation.

Well, I guess we will see about that, won't we? Pundits are frequently wrong.

For me, where your argument has merit is in the fact that history demonstrates both President Clinton and the first President Bush supposedly defying conventional wisdom to compromise with hostile congresses. We remember the first President Bush being pressured into going back on his "Read my lips, no new taxes!" pledge in order to pass a budget with the Democrats. And, President Clinton ended up abandoning his socialized medicine plan, only to later pass major cuts in welfare with the Republicans. So, legislation of consequence is certainly possible for the President, but is it something "THAT HE WOULD WANT?" That is the question.

I personally hope that the President's tenacity, that you reference, is fully employed in resisting the unconstitutional piece of legislation seeking to grant both the District of Columbia and the state of Utah new seats in Congress. This horrible proposal creates precedent that is bad for America. Utah is part of America. Thus, the answer to your question is this: Utah does not need to rush to get a fourth seat in Congress so badly that it is worth sacrificing the Constitution. It would be better to simply wait until the next census in four years, and get that new seat legitimately. What little the state would gain in the short run would not be worth the damage done to our country in the long run.

Please forgive me, but your comment regarding the unfeasibility of Maryland reabsorbing the District of Columbia, demonstrates that you have very little understanding of the arguments against the proposed legislation. No one, like me, who opposes the bill on constitutional grounds, would ever make that suggestion, because such a plan would also be unconstitutional!

The framers of the Constitution had a terrible real-life experience that convinced them that the seat of national government needed to reside in a neutral zone that only it controlled, not some individual state or any other kind of local government jurisdiction. So, the Constitution provides for the creation of just such an area--the District of Columbia.

The only proper way to get around that requirement would be to amend the Constitution.

During the Carter Administration, just such an effort was attempted, but it failed. Within our system of federalism, the people spoke. The answer was "No."

Now, the current proposed legislation would try to achieve the same result, but by degree, and by going around the Constitution. First, the District of Columbia gets representation in the House. Once that precedent is established, there would be no basis for denying it representation in the Senate. Then, all the rights and privileges of statehood would eventually follow, step by step, because there ultimately would be no basis for withholding them.

But, that is not what the Constitution mandates.

And, I personally agree with the framers' original vision. The same dangers that existed in their day are also present in our own. Indeed, their provision may actually be more relevant for our day.

Remember the anarchy that manifested itself in the city of Seattle when the WTO met there several years ago? What if such a crowd came to the nation's capital, but unlike Seattle's leaders, the local authorities were actually sympathetic with the demonstrators and refused to disperse them? The nation's elected officials would then be held hostage to the whims of some local leaders over whom they had no control.

A similar thing happened to our founding fathers, and they wanted to protect the nation from that ever happening again. That is why we have a District of Columbia, instead of the capital of our nation residing in a state. It was a good idea then, and I think it is still a good idea.

Now, as for achieving some kind of representational justice for the folks living within the District of Columbia, that is another question. It may be appropriate for us to address their situation. But, we should do so only by following the proper procedures for amending the Constitution, and I further believe that we should do so without abandoning the framers original vision of having the capital located in a federally controlled district.

That is all I am saying.

I am sorry, Anonymous. I wrote the piece above in a sleep deprived state, in the middle of the night, while attending a fussy baby. I apologize for the arrogant tone I adopted, and for my proclivity for run-on sentences. I’m not sure which is more annoying, but I sincerely hope you will forgive me.

Please remain engaged in the discussion. I want to hear and understand your side of the debate. Please respond to my arguments with more of your own. Eventually, we will understand each other. Until that happens, we won’t be able to accommodate our respective concerns. Thanks, my friend.

(Originally posted to www.slcspin.com and www.senatesite.com on NOV 2006)


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