By Alan Caruba
“The Senate failed to obtain cloture on the DREAM Act amnesty (S. 2205) on October 24 by a 52-44 vote, for which 60 YES votes were needed to prevent a filibuster. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill) were attempting to bring this nightmarish amnesty bill to the floor under Senate Rule XIV without it ever having been debated in committee.” (Oct 24, 2008)
This was the notice that arrived from an organization devoted to getting a handle on the immigration mess that is one part Bush administration indifference and one part the effort of Mexico to alter the population of the United States. Mexico has encouraged one tenth of its population (much of it illegal) to move to the U.S.A. instead of finding the means to build an economy whereby they might actually want to stay in Mexico.
As bad as the failure to get control over the nation’s southern border is, the notice to me bespoke Sen. Reid’s complete contempt for the U.S. Constitution. The notion that the Democrat Majority Leader would try to slip a bill through the Senate without that body having an opportunity to even debate it is obscene.
Americans of a generation or two born since the years just preceding and following World War II received an education that placed a fair amount of emphasis on American history and about the Constitution that binds us together and has afforded us becoming the most powerful financial and military nation on earth. There was a time when that honor belonged to the British Empire, but they let it slip away.
We are in very real danger of letting the requirements of the Constitution slip away as more and more power is ceded to the Executive branch, the Presidency, and while the Legislative branch, Congress, fails to engage in the primary job of democracy, compromise. The whole purpose of the Constitution was to slow down and require debate among opposing factions for the purpose of requiring them to compromise. Failing that, we end up with more bad laws than good.
We now live in a vile era of politics in which a “winner take all” philosophy exists and the warfare between Democrats and Republicans does injury to the purpose of government. The Republican majority that began when voters turned Congress over to Republicans in 1994 and then the first Bush presidency with its hair-thin victory. The lesson of that was lost on Bush and Cheney.
“The Chief Executive will on occasion feel duty bound to assert monarchical notions of prerogative that will permit him to exceed the laws,” said an obscure Representative from Wyoming back in the days when Congress was investigating an illegal operation to supply Nicaraguan anti-communists under cover of Reagan’s National Security Council. That’s what Dick Cheney thought then and he has pursued that philosophy and policy in spades since becoming the Vice President.
In the same way that Congress has not acted upon its exclusive Constitutional mandate to declare war since WWII, it has been the presidents since Truman that have controlled that process. It’s why we drifted into Iraq without much serious debate in Congress. It’s why Americans wonder out loud if (or when) Bush will get us into a war with Iran without taking the decision to Congress.
Everybody senses that something is very wrong with Congress and out of control with the White House.
If more people actually knew something about American history in general and the U.S. Constitution in particular, they would be a lot more worried.