Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

Reason #4,672 Why Congress Kinda Sucks

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Politics

Because they don’t have spirited, culturally awesome arguments like this one between British Prime Minister David Cameron and a member of parliament, where they pretty much just throw out old Smiths songs as a way of bickering about Cameron’s proposed budget cuts:

MP Kerry McCarthy: “As someone who claims to be an avid fan of The Smiths, the Prime Minister will no doubt be rather upset this week that both Morrissey and Johnny Marr have banned him from liking them. The Smiths are, of course, the archetypal students’ band. If he wins tomorrow night’s vote [on tuition fees], what songs does he think students will be listening to? ‘Miserable Lie,’ ‘I Don’t Owe You Anything’ or ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now?’”

Cameron: “I accept that if I turned up I probably wouldn’t get ‘This Charming Man,’ and if I went with the Foreign Secretary [William Hague] it would probably be ‘William It Was Really Nothing.’”

David Cameron and an MP rapping about the Smiths in public? As part of a policy exchange? Sign me up!

Of course, the British parliament has always been noticeably more, um, lively and exciting than their American counterparts. In short, the House of Commons is basically the political equivalent of a rap battle.

We don’t do that in the United States. In fact, we pretty much do the opposite — we let our elected representatives pontificate ad nauseum to a near-empty chamber until they quite literally put people to sleep. But that doesn’t mean there’s not an appetite for this kind of robust debate in American politics.

Indeed, think back to last February, when the country was (briefly) atwitter over President Obama’s decision to take on his opponents head-to-head in a question-and-answer session at the House Republicans’ retreat. It was like the Woodstock of actual, real-life debate in Washington. It was legitimately thrilling to actually see (for once) the best and brightest of both parties really going at it in a more casual, open setting.

However, that unique moment becomes significantly less thrilling when you then realize that the British prime minister does the same thing every single week in Prime Minister’s Questions (or PMQ, as it’s apparently abbreviated), which is where the aforementioned Cameron-McCarthy Smiths exchange took place.

You may be thinking this isn’t really a substantive critique. You’re right — it isn’t. Barack Obama and John Boehner clearly aren’t going to develop a bipartisan plan to magically eliminate the national debt by swapping Run-DMC references on a weekly basis (although I hear Boehner is a huge fan.) But I can’t help but feel that our policy and our politics could only benefit from having more spirited public debates on the issues — particularly debates where policymakers and leaders from both parties (including the president) have to stand up and answer their critics directly in a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions.

I refuse to believe that such a heightened level of debate and transparency could somehow be bad for this country. But then again, I do love myself some political theater and a good Smiths reference — so maybe my motives are selfish in that regard. I guess I just live in the wrong country to be consistently entertained by my public officials’ weirdly encyclopedic knowledge of mopey 1980s British pop music…

John McCain

Will Republicans Finally Have the Guts to Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Politics

The studies are in and the verdict is clear — the American public supports it; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates favors it; even the majority of our troops are cool with it. So why is there any doubt about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? And, more to the point, will congressional Republicans still try to prevent something that, by virtually every account, will strengthen our armed forces and increase national security?

On Tuesday, the Pentagon released the “Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That’s a long title, and it comes with a fittingly long report that basically says what has been obvious for years — DADT is outdated and needs to be ended.

The Obama Administration's Self-Inflicted Political Straitjacket

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Uncategorized

Yes, I’m alive. Welcome back to the blog. I hope everyone had a nice little break over the Thanksgiving holiday. I know I certainly did.

You know who didn’t have a nice little break over the Thanksgiving holiday? The White House.

It’s been a(nother) bad week for Barack Obama and friends, what with WikiLeaks dumping 250,000 top-secret State Department communiqués that reveal nothing particularly earth-shattering, but some damning backroom espionage by America’s top diplomats nonetheless. This, of course, beget a media firestorm questioning whether the leak has left the president “weak” in both the political and foreign policy realms just as his administration prepares to shift an eye toward reelection efforts.

Oh, and the president took a mean elbow the mouth in a friendly post-Thanksgiving basketball game, resulting in 12 stitches and some unflattering pictures of the commander-in-chief holding a wad of toilet paper to his bloody lip as he made his way out of the gym.

In the words of VH1, Barack Obama is having the best week ever!

And do you know what cures a bad week better than anything else? A poorly strategized, one-sided gesture of “bipartisanship” that undermines your economic agenda, that’s what!

Yesterday, in what seems like a desperate attempt to deflect some media attention away from the WikiLeaks scandal, the White House announced a two-year freeze on salaries for all civilian federal employees. You know, those lazy fat-cats that are living large on government benjamins — or, in other words, getting paid $40,000 a year to perform thankless jobs that are nevertheless essential to several important programs that millions of Americans rely upon every day.

That’s right, public servants. Stop sticking your hand out, the gravy train stops here.

Oh, President Obama. Where to begin?

The pay freeze is, first and foremost, a disappointing political move. These kinds of one-sided gestures are exactly what killed the White House (and, by extension, the Democrats) on both the stimulus package and health care reform.

Let’s recap. In early 2009 when the administration was trying to pass a large-scale stimulus package in hopes of boosting the flailing economy, the president made it very clear that he wanted some Republican support for whatever measure ultimately passed through Congress. How did he do that? By putting forth a bill laden with Republican-favored tax cuts that his economic advisers cautioned would be less effective in stimulating economic growth than other methods. In fact, tax cuts comprised approximately one-third of the $789 billion stimulus package.

Now, it’s all well and good to compromise with Republicans. Indeed, it’s preferable to be agreeable and productive, both politically and policy-wise. But you don’t open negotiations by giving them what they want right off the bat. That’s not how it works. Such a strategy — or lack thereof — doesn’t require them to make concessions (i.e. give up some votes) in order to secure a more desirable policy outcome. It doesn’t give them a political stake in the negotiation process.

Imagine a world where the president comes to the Republicans and says, “We want to do this stimulus package. We’d like to put $789 billion into the economy — 45 percent through infrastructure spending, 45 percent through aid to state and local governments, and 10 percent through tax cuts.” What would the congressional Republicans do? They’d throw a fit. “That’s ridiculous, Mr. President,” they’d say. “Our members won’t vote for something with that much spending and that little tax relief.” And they would be right about that.

This is where negotiation begins.

Perhaps after haggling for awhile, the president could secure some modicum of Republican support in exchange for cutting the bill’s spending and increasing its tax relief efforts. Perhaps he could strike a deal where the package would be structured equally across the board — one-third to tax cuts, one-third to infrastructure spending, and one-third to state aid — but do so in such a way that gives the Republicans some kind of role in the process (and, therefore, some responsibility) and picks up a chunk of votes along the way.

Or he could do what he did — just throw them a bone up front and get nothing in return. What incentive do Republicans have to be cooperative if the White House is just going to give them what they want without demanding any kind of concessions? In that scenario, they are free to sit on the backbench and lob political grenades at the administration, vote against the bill, and still get their desired policy outcome — and that’s exactly what they did.

This is an absolutely crazy thing for the administration to do — but they keep doing it. First the stimulus, then health care reform, and now the pay freeze. The White House continues to give Republicans what they want without getting any substantial concessions in return. Even worse, they know what they’re doing. They know these kinds of tactics are a mistake — as the president has lamented in recent weeks — yet they continue to do it.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results each time, then the White House political team is in dire need of a nice facility with tight white coats and padded walls. I don’t care how badly the press is savaging the administration over the WikiLeaks documents — we’ve been down the road of foolish, one-way “bipartisanship” before, and it doesn’t end pretty for anyone with a ‘D’ next to their name.

When does the madness stop?

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Why Democrats Should Use Reconciliation

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

At the health care summit last week, nearly every Republican senator and congressman made clear their disapproval of using a process known as reconciliation to pass health care reform. Reconciliation is a process that is used for budgetary reasons in order to circumvent a filibuster and achieve a straight up-or-down vote. It helps needed budgetary bills move through Congress in a timelier manner. It has become somewhat of a hot-button issue due to the possible repercussions. Democrats fear using reconciliation would divide the House and the Senate or, in other words, Republicans would continue to vote no on every last thing Obama proposes. So really, there would be no repercussions.

The health care bill does, in fact, account for a large portion of the economy and would have a significant impact on the budget. Republicans actually back me up on this. By the Republicans persistent efforts, they have declared over and over again that health care accounts for a large part of the economy. At the health care summit last week, Lamar Alexander defiantly said that health care makes up roughly 17 percent of the economy and that we should not change it all at once. With that line of thought, reconciliation actually should be used in this case, right?

POLITICS: Incredulous Republican Fear of Debate

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

There have been plenty of complaints about the health care debate not being transparent enough, and that President Obama and the Democrats have not included the Republicans enough in piecing together legislation for a health care bill.

There have been accusations that the president has not kept his word. For example, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz tried calling the president out in a question at the Republican retreat a couple weeks ago.

“When you stood up before the American people multiple times and said you would broadcast the health care debates on C-SPAN, you didn’t,” Chaffetz said. “And I was disappointed, and I think a lot of Americans were disappointed.”

Fair enough. Although the majority of the congressional hearings and committee meetings dealing with health care were, in fact, televised on C-SPAN. I guess the question for critics of this sort is how do you logistically make sure that every meeting is televised? Should every single hearing be televised? What about unofficial talks before actual meetings? Conversations? Opinions? I am as big a supporter of transparency as anyone, but it undeniably gets a little messy.

But now, perhaps in response to the criticism, the White House has invited congressional leaders of both parties to a summit to discuss health care with the hope of moving forward and making health care reform a reality. And yes, it will be televised in its entirety.

Unbelievably, almost immediately Republicans criticized the gesture. The talking points were heard far and wide, migrating from Fox News and the EIB Network directly into Republican leaders’ mouths. “It’s a trap,” they said, typically followed by “I don’ t know what to expect.” There are also fears the president is trying to “intimidate” the Republicans and Americans into a “government takeover of health care.”

From what we know about the debate, it is hardly a trap. By the time it takes place, Republicans will have had nearly three weeks to prepare. The Democrats’ updated bill will be posted online before the gathering, challenging the Republicans to put forward legislation of their own. Both parties were allowed to choose additional participants and staff members specializing in health care policy. In other words, if Republicans are caught by surprise or feel trapped, it will be their own fault.

Republicans are acting like they’re new to debate — or politics, for that matter. A televised debate with more than enough time for preparation is not a trap. Republicans complain about the health care process going too fast, but cannot get enough time to prepare for a debate on a policy we have steadily been talking about for over a year now? Isn’t that the point of debate, to present your proposals and see who has better ideas? Doing an interview with Stephen Colbert is more of a trap than the White House summit will be. (Chaffetz has done an interview with Colbert, by the way.)

Having a couple weeks to get ready for a televised, transparent debate on the people’s health care policy is not a trap. Public policy debate is not a trap. It’s part of open democracy.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus.

POLITICS: Taking Some of the Politics Out of Politics

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Obama SOTU

Randal Serr

Randal Serr

President Obama gave his State of the Union address last week — a speech that has been called both inspiring and tough, as well as rhetorical and lacking content. I thought the speech was good and I heard a lot of what I wanted to hear. What I thought was more impressive, however, was when the President took questions from House Republicans at a retreat in Baltimore two days later.

The State of the Union has received and continues to receive a lot of analysis and criticism. The question and answer session deserves a lot more attention than it is getting. Watching the retreat was an educational experience. It was much more candid and stimulating than the State of the Union. Both Republican representatives and the president were addressing concerns they had with each other and talking about them.

You could sense the tension discussing certain issues, but they were addressed respectfully and forcefully. Not only that, but the whole thing was transparent since it was broadcast live on C-SPAN. That is how politics should be, rather than the over-the-top accusations and boxing each other in we are used to hearing from talking heads like Beck and Olbermann.

Understandably, we like to listen to those that we agree with politically. People are not going to stop watching and listening to their side’s political talk shows and that’s just the way it is. But you cannot tell me Fox News is the only station that “tells you how it really is” any more than I can tell you MSNBC is purely objective and unbiased.

We tend to get so obsessed with ideology that we let it turn into demagoguery. In other words, we end up making arguments that are completely unsubstantiated or backed up by any facts just because that is what is being ingrained in us every day. If we insist on watching these people, we need to acknowledge that some of what we are watching and listening to only serves to make us into unblinking ideologues.

I do not mean to undermine the importance of the president’s State of the Union address. It is an important event that Americans should be more concerned about than the season premiere of Lost. At the same time, the session most people missed or do not even know about was both intellectually challenging and healthy. What I am saying is these sort of meetings need to happen more frequently, because they open the door for honest discussion and debate.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus.

POLITICS: Our Boy Brown Won Boston Town!

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Scott Brown

Call everyone! Teddy gave his seat up to a Republican! It’s sad to see there will actually have to be discussion again on the senate floor about issues like health care. I wonder how such a thing could happen. After all, the Democratic nominee, Martha Coakley, was ahead by large margins only a few weeks ago. Now she’s going back home with nothing but a “better-luck-next-time” and the reputation of being the first Democratic nominee to lose a senate seat for Massachusetts in the past three decades.

Now you might blame bad campaigning or whatever else, but in the end, is there a hidden message in this little turn of events? I don’t think it’ll be quite as challenging for the Senate to understand the hint, but hopefully they’ll get it: We don’t like the changes that are happening. The White House claims that the misdoings of their agenda has been merely “bad communication” to the American people. You’re right, Obama, because we would have never voted for you if we knew you were going to try and fundamentally alter American society within a year’s time.

Obama and his crony gang that is running both the Senate and House are sitting in office as the embodiment of an attitude of entitlement and welfare that has developed in America. I’m all for helping others out, but the attitude that government should provide all is nothing more than a virus that will corrode the bedrock of our founding. So perhaps the guilty party includes you and me. Thankfully, we seem to be waking up slowly and realizing we want change, but not at the price Obama is quoting us.

Whatever implications this has on party reactions and preparations for the 2010 election year is still hard to say. Democrats may take measures to reach out more to the people and work to address the job crisis in their states instead of pushing solely on the health care issue. Or perhaps they’ll just remain out of touch with their constituencies long enough for a changing of the guard. Who knows? For now, it’s just nice to see that in even the heartiest camps of liberal delusion, common sense still holds sway. Welcome to Washington, Senator Brown!

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. We welcome him back from his eight-year vacation.

POLITICS: Republican Retrospective ‘09

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Politics

A word from the GOP...

A word from the GOP...

In the wake of the 2008 elections, this year has seen the explosion of an angry, faux-populist conservative movement that, according to Fox News, is taking the country by storm. If the big question last year was what the Republican Party would do next, this year seems to have given us our answer: get really pissed off. Yet while characters like Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann have become media fixtures, we haven’t quite seen conservatives cobble together a specific plan to counter the Democrats. The incessant rallies and tea parties have been radical in style and tone, but intellectually vacuous too.

In that light, the big (conservative) political question at the end of 2009 is how the Republican Party will reinvent itself and provide a distinctive legislative alternative that goes beyond making outlandish claims about global warming, idiotically questioning President Obama’s citizenship, or just not being a Democrat.

There are a lot of different theories about what will happen next. Some believe the almost-righteous fury witnessed at all the recent rallies will continue, and even spill out beyond the party’s extreme fringes. Sarah Palin, a darling of hyper-conservative Republicans, recently seemed to be encouraging this particular outcome when she endorsed Doug Hoffman of the Conservative Party over Republican Dede Scozzafava, in the New York 23rd congressional district special election.

Yet Hoffman lost to Democrat Bill Owens and Palin’s endorsement may have merely turned Hoffman into a spoiler who split the conservative vote. The episode is illuminative not only for Palin’s “marvericking” it up by ignoring her party, but also because it illustrates the difficulties of actually getting a hard-line, “tea party” conservative elected. Sure, there are some regions that endorse these people, but on a larger scale they just aren’t that appealing — even to Republicans. On a national scale, things are even grimmer for the far right and, as this Slate article points out, it’s unlikely that a real tea partier could move beyond the small-time.

So if the tea parties alone won’t save the Republicans, what will? In his recent Newsweek article, David Frum proposes just the opposite: a return to neoconservatism. Admittedly, in light of what has happened to the Republican Party in the last year, a return to the “glory” days of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz suddenly sounds almost appealing. Even if neoconservative ideas led to disaster again and again, at least they were ideas.

That said, it’s baffling to see some seriously advocating neoconservatism again. (Personally, I was still shocked and nearly vomiting all over myself from the first go-around.) In an attempt to make neoconservatism more appealing, Frum says the pseudo-ideology has been “blamed” for Iraq and Katrina, as if it wasn’t really at fault. And it’s true — there is no secret, evil neocon handbook that tells adherents to screw people over and over again. In fairness though, the neocon faithful were at the helm for those (and a sorry number of other) debacles.

More broadly, however, I think it’s a mistake to assume neoconservatism represents something less alienating and counterproductive than tea partiers. Generally speaking, neocons do have a respect for science, intellectual acuity and political savvy, all things the far right has sadly either marginalized or (somehow) disregarded. Nevertheless, neoconservatism is an ideology of unilateralism — unless you’re the one in power, it comes off as arrogant and bullying. At least in its most recent incarnations, neoconservatism hardly values consensus-building.

In this sense, tea parties and neconservatism are two of a kind — the former screams for what it wants domestically, while the latter pushes its will on the world stage. However, both end up isolating their believers with an “us versus them” mentality. I heard once that Leo Strauss, perhaps the most influential political scholar of the neoconservative movement, reportedly liked the old Gunsmoke TV show because the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. Everyone was either good or bad, and their allegiances were abundantly clear. Whether that anecdote is true or not, it’s a good illustration of both the tea party and neocon approach to politics — you’re either with us or against us, and if you’re against us, we’re going to utterly destroy you because we think you’re evil. Sadly, even long-serving and fairly respectable politicians are exhibiting this thickheaded refusal to compromise, as Orrin Hatch did when he called the health care debate a “holy war” in this Los Angeles Times article.

As a non-Republican myself, I can’t help but think the current state of conservative politics is setting the Democrats up for long-term wins, even if those wins are less dramatic than last year’s. Yes, some Republicans will still come out victorious, but there will also be more spoilers and third party candidates. Funds that normally went toward supporting a single candidate will be dispersed more broadly, leaving Democrats with more money and greater unity.

I also can’t help but wonder how rank-and-file Republicans, most of whom are neither tea partiers nor neocons, feel about these developments. Neoconservatism is, at its best, a type of amoral egoism — it’s deeply rooted in intellectual investigation, but relies heavily on dangerous generalizations and has shown very little consideration for traditional conservative values like small government. On the other hand, the radical right epitomized by the tea party movement is all rage but no plan; its answer to debate is, apparently, a gun. Neither option really seems to represent the decorous, measured, tonally moderate party that used to exist.

Ultimately, 2009 has been a year in which conservatives (and Republicans) have demonstrated a great will to evolve, but still haven’t quite found their way. Though the political right was co-opted by insidious big spending ideologues during the last decade, the only alternative we’ve seen so far are loud-mouthed demagogues. As 2010 begins and more elections loom on the horizon, we’ll hopefully begin to see some Republicans who are neither neocons nor morons. When that finally happens, the Republican comeback will have begun in earnest.

Jim Dalrymple is a regular correspondent for Rhombus, frequently reporting on popular culture and politics.

POLITICS: From One Hypocrite To Another

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

Greetings to all you Rhombus readers. It’s wonderful to publish articles for you and hopefully it’s been interesting to read. The more articles I attempt to publish and the more feedback I get from readers, it’s become apparent that there’s a large portion that don’t agree with what I have to say.

It’s not a very big shocker, I know. My editor is more liberal than Richard Gere and Michael Moore combined and loves/despises every piece I submit. And yet this funfest of contention doesn’t stop at our humble Web site, no sir. Even more amusing is the hype and heat that is radiating around controversies and conflicts produced by talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, the White House, Congress and basically anyone else who voices their opinion.  Oh dear, we’re disagreeing with one another.

Now there seems to have been some nasty treatment of the fair-minded liberal leaders in office. Isn’t is awful how those conniving conservatives are waging this national whinefest to combat the pure intentions of the Democratic Party? How could conservatives generate so many lies and misinformation and slander our leaders in such a shameless and degrading fashion?

The truth is, it’s been happening for ages. And I’m not just blaming the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”You could easily switch the parties around and what would we have? Why we’d be right back in the good ol’ days of “W” and the Haliburton Hitmen of the Bush administration. There is no question as to whether the Pinko commie liberals were using dirty tactics of misinformation and rabble rousing. Millions of rock albums were sold on the mistaken idea that we were living under a fascist dictator. (Here’s looking at you, Green Day.) But now that we’re not under the spurs of our beloved Bush Jr., it’s fun to see how they whine about the nasty and apparently unfounded attacks on our new president, the great reformer.

I’ve got two words for you: Double standard.

Please don’t think of this as an attempt to excuse the conservative nut jobs from their slanderous statements toward public officials. I’m just hoping you realize this isn’t a new issue and mistreatment isn’t a one-way street running from the right to the left.

Some may argue such tactics of misinformation are only fringe practices in the Democratic Party and that Democrats are much more concerned with bigger, more important issues. But guess what? That’s because the Daddy Democrats are now actually in charge of helping to steer the country. They’re running the show, so naturally they have to be a little more preoccupied with actual affairs of state and less stressed about debunking the commander-in-chief.  Such tactics have, of necessity, been pushed to the fringes.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a need to decry unfounded allegations and accusations made against those of opposing viewpoints, but I am saying (to both sides) to stop playing the martyr. We disagree on what needs to be done here in the States. The whole right/wrong concept really boils down to which side of the aisle you stand on. The basic belief systems that we have espoused perhaps differ greatly. Some amenities that I would consider privileges are regarded by others as God-given rights. It in no way says that I’m right and your wrong or vice versa, it just means we have differing viewpoints.

You don’t walk up to a member of a different religion and say, “You’re wrong!” That’s both rude and hypocritical. I’m sure you’d feel the same if an atheist came to you and said your beliefs are foolish (if you are of a particular religious denomination). The fact that we believe ourselves to be correct doesn’t warrant a crusade to unhinge the beliefs of others. Once we can get that concept clear, maybe there will be less of this ideological propaganda and a greater effort to reason together and incorporate ideals to achieve more elevated solutions to today’s problems.

But until then, bring on the bickering, back biting and blowhards. I’m sure there will be some sort of sense we can find in the endless debates on CNN, The O’Reilly Factor and other “credible” news sources. If anything, we’ll stimulate the economy from added airtime for private advertisements. So don’t worry about progressing: It’ll be fun! Having played water polo in my past life, treading water has always been a pastime of mine anyway.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. His editor doesn’t quite consider himself the liberal revolutionary that Mr. Jones does and genuinely wonders when Richard Gere become the new envoy of the left.

POLITICS: The Medical Monkey On Our Backs

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

In what has been one of the most heated and highly publicized debates in recent years, it’s been amazing to see the upheaval of public interest in health care reform.  From countless YouTube videos and dozens of newsflashes and reports of town hall protests, it’s easy to see there are a lot of people that aren’t happy with what’s going on. Now, this would normally be a time for me and my conservative minions to proudly sound an advance on Capitol Hill, but there is some reckoning that needs to happen first.

The debate has taken a turn for the worst. We’re no longer compromising. Be it the bull-headed GOP or the jackass liberal Democrats, a definitely line has been drawn in the sand; Representatives are being forced to choose their side under immense public scrutiny. The White House has even begun to imply that there will have to be a Democrat-only vote to push health care legislation through Congress. The white house blames the GOP and the visa versa.

What really chaps my hide isn’t so much the fact that we’re disagreeing. Heck, we’ve been at odds with one another since men were still wearing wigs and knickers. What really get me are the implications of the outcome of this debate. There is a serious shift of power that is occurring in this country as we consider and possibly pass bills such as the health care bill currently sitting on Capitol Hill.

With the introduction of federal programs, there comes a surrendering of autonomy in some degree or another. Many families lose the ability to find decent health care, because private insurance companies will be scrambling to match the government’s offer. Even then, if those families decided to take the feds up on their new program, they’ll have to take a number and wait for their turn to check out some ailment that should have been addressed much sooner. Companies, both big and small, will suddenly lose a bargaining chip (a.k.a. health benefits) that they once used to attract skilled full-time labor and instead get a “tax monkey” to carry around, in order to support this doomed program.

Part of my sentiments about this issue comes from time spent abroad in the socialized nation of Chile. One thing I noticed above all is the polarization of the health care offered to the Chilean people.  If you were looking for treatment that was comparable to “U.S. standards,” you would have to be willing to shell out the big bucks to pay for it. Otherwise, the government-run hospitals and clinics were the only other local option.  Since there was little-to-no cost to the patient for health care, people came for the slightest coughs and sore throats. A mere checkup would be scheduled out three to four months in advance.  Is it any wonder that the leaders of other countries come to the States for their medical needs?

If you’re scratching your head and saying, “Jess, you’re an alarmist and an over-exaggerator,” try this one on for size. I am currently enrolled in a health plan that mimics the proposed health plan the federal government will provide if the bill passes. Several months ago, I went in for a checkup for chest pains and was informed that I needed to visit a specialist that dealt with such problems. Should the problem continue, I was in danger of contracting cancer. Naturally, there was need for an urgent checkup to curb this potentially lethal problem. However, the program in which I am enrolled offered only one specialist — and he was booked solid for four months. Keep in mind, this was America. Granted, I only had to pay for the co-pay and I would eventually get seen, but what can we expect from a larger version of this plan? Is there need to worry about the shortage of doctors and specialists that will want to work for government?

I guess what is most troubling above all is the manner in which we are proceeding to pass this bill. Democratic leaders, along with the White House, are determined to pass this bill without delay. I don’t fault them for their vigor, nor for their ambition of helping a larger portion of Americans receive healthcare; However, there is no room in democracy — especially in American democracy — for these thug-like stratagems in Congress. This bill is just one of several examples of a major shift of power and responsibility towards the federal government.

It’s a big deal and for Democrats to just say “We’re doing this whether you like it or not” isn’t only offensive to the framework of the Constitution, but it’s a key indicator of the lack of leadership abilities of both the majority leaders and the White House. The attempt to garner public support through town hall meetings has proved that many Americans are against the plan set forth thus far. Polls show that more Americans disapprove than approve of the plan, so why are our leaders planning on making a power move to ramrod this legislation through Congress when it will clearly take a step toward greater government control?

You may think this is a half-hearted attempt at a Beck/Hannity homage, but the truth is there are things to consider here that are of serious consequences. James Madison explained that the purpose of the American republic was to reduce the effect of factions, splinter cells that are looking to deprive others of their rights. Although the representatives that are fighting over this bill were elected by the people, a faction of leaders has emerged on Capitol Hill with the determination to decide for us one of the most personal decisions that we could make: How we care for ourselves medically. Are we in trouble or are we paving the way of the future? Such questions are worth debate and a personal diagnosis.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. He is also the incoming vice-chair of the BYU College Republicans.