Whatever your position on the watered-down background check measure that failed yesterday for lack of a super-majority, you should be appalled by the ability of a minority to block action desired by an overwhelming majority of the American public, and a clear majority of their representatives.
If this were an isolated case, we could shrug it off, attribute it to the messiness that is the democratic process. But yesterday was simply another episode in the soap opera called Your Broken Government. The story line is familiar: the Party of No refuses to engage in anything resembling good-faith negotiation or legislative compromise, the Party of Wimps shakes its head and throws up its hands–and nothing happens. Problems aren’t solved. Jobs aren’t created. Petty politics replaces lawmaking. Statesmanship is a word in the dictionary.
This soap opera features a dysfunctional family, where the GOP is the bratty child who has tantrums and refuses to do his chores and the Democrats are the enabling parent who substitutes ineffectual remonstrances for real discipline.
Actually, television offers an even better analogy. In the original Star Trek series, the Enterprise came across a planet where warfare was conducted entirely by computer; rather than use weapons that would devastate cities, the computer would simulate battles and send messages to the losers–who would then obediently report to death chambers. In the United States Senate, a group of Senators sends Harry Reid a message, telling him of its intent to filibuster, and suddenly, sixty votes are required rather than a simple majority. No real war–not even a requirement that the objecting minority actually stand and talk. Just servile acquiescence.
Yesterday, those elected to represent us spit in the faces of the ninety percent of Americans who wanted background checks. Representative democracy did not work. Again.
The question is, what will the American public do about our broken government?