Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.”     James Madison

August 19, 2009

Reelection Is More Important Than Legislation

by Brad Warbiany

In the health care debate, the question has somewhat changed within the Democratic party from “what do we want?” to “what can we actually pass?” Because they’re relatively sure there’ll be no help from Republicans, this puts them in an awkward spot, and as Bruce of QandO points out, highlights a point showing how all politicians are duplicitous self-serving assholes (emphasis added):

But the exclusion of Republicans doesn’t mean smooth sailing for Democrats. Numbers-wise they certainly have the majorities they need in both houses to pass legislation. This particular legislation, however, has become fraught with political danger. Many Democrats are very wary of it because of the demonstrated unhappiness of their constituencies and the probable 2010 impact that may have. This is especially true of more conservative Democrats, even those is primarily Democratic districts. And “Blue Dogs” who managed to win in historically red districts are terrified.

That sets up the conflict of political interests the Democrats face. They believe, now that they’ve brought it up and the president has made it one of his signature issues, that unless they pass it (or something they can call “health care reform”) they’ll have set him up for failure. However, they are also coming to realize that passing something now despite a majority of Americans saying slow down and start over could be hazardous to their political health – and majorities.

I’d say that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans believe that they know better what is good for us mere citizens than we do. It’s clear that Democrats have been waiting for the opportunity to vote for health care ever since 1994, and I’d say that sentiment likely extends to many of these Blue Dogs. In fact, I’d go one step further and suggest that there’s more than a handful of Republicans in the House and Senate who’d like to join them, because megalomania knows no party lines.

So I think it goes without saying that likely a majority of House and probably a supermajority of the Senate (when counting Snowe, Collins, etc) support health care reform, and when pressed probably including a public option.

So why is it faltering? Because these politicians who speak of the selfless sacrifice they make for the nation are too afraid to make a vote that might get them tossed from office. Getting reelected is more important than doing what they think is right.

Cocontributor Doug Mataconis posted at his home blog, Below The Beltway, a quote from Eric Massa (D-NY) speaking of the voters in his district that I have to at least respect his honesty:

Massa: I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them.

He’s blatantly admitting that he thinks he knows better than us, and that he intends to live up to that promise. That’s admitting to his megalomania, and as we all know, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

But how cowardly is it to see a politician who honestly believes he knows what’s right for you but lacks the stones to vote for it? If you believe, as far too many in this country do, in delegating the power to run your life to a ruling elite, don’t you at least expect that ruling elite to follow their convictions? Congress holds themselves up as philosopher-kings whose job is to make everything in this nation better, and yet they’re so wedded to power that they won’t even vote for their own prescriptions.

I’m sure I’ve made it clear from my many writings that I don’t support gov’t healthcare, and that I don’t believe any of the fools who inhabit the Capitol Building are qualified to make my decisions. I am, for better for worse, an individual and I take full ownership of the decisions I make in my life — and the consequences thereof.

But not our politicians. They talk during their campaigns about how they’ll make tough decisions, and use words like sacrifice and service to describe what they do in Washington. They talk about their principles and their ideals. They prominently display a platform of platitudes on their web sites. But when that tough decision comes, when that principled vote that might anger some of their constituents is laid at their feet, they fold. They show that their only principle is staying in Washington, and no promise or ideal will ever rise above that one single purpose.

These are the cowards that you have elected to “represent” you. They’ve built fiefdoms of staffers and interest groups around them to protect themselves from your disapproval, and constantly shovel pork-barrel spending into their district to buy whatever votes are for sale. And when they’re actually faced with doing what you elect them to do, they fail. And what happens if you finally get fed up with them? You fools replace the R or D you have with the same mealy-mouthed sycophant, but who represents the opposite letter. And you actually expect things to change.

America’s been long headed down the road to serfdom. I guess I should only be happy, then, that our government has the top speed of a snail and is prone to breakdowns. Someday I hope that we can realize that rather than riding that jalopy to the end, we should all get out and walk — all in our own direction. But I doubt it, we’ll keep throwing on new used parts and inch along until the whole structure collapses. Then, instead of considering the folly of the destination, we’ll simply hit the used car lot to continue the same tired journey.

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4 Comments

  1. If a majority of Eric Massa’s constituents thought that that national healthcare was a good idea, and he voted against it, would you have the same criticism?

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 19, 2009 @ 9:10 pm
  2. Joshua,

    My anger at politicians is that they hold themselves up to be philosopher-kings who know what’s best for us, and they’re tireless and selfless champions of this. But when it’s put to a vote, they’re cowards.

    Eric Massa is playing his hand as if he’s not cowardly, as if he’s going to make the “right” vote despite the consequences in the next election. I actually think he’s being surprisingly brave on this, because he won his seat in 2008 by a 50.9 to 49.1 margin — not exactly a landslide.

    I think he’s WRONG on the issue, but if he were on the right side of the issue, I’d similarly expect him to vote on principle rather than politics. That’s what politicians advertise about themselves, the “brave, principled legislators” rather than the cowards most of them truly are.

    All that being said, there’s a systemic problem here. Legislators are not philosopher-kings. Many of them get to office by virtue of charisma, connections, and having the right letter signifying their party. Most of them are horribly unqualified to make decisions on just about everything on Congress’ docket. But it doesn’t stop them from mucking it up. I view it all through the prism of F.A. Hayek; they cannot possibly have enough information and knowledge to rule over the swath of policy they task themselves with. It is not humanly possible. But when they add cowardice to the mix, then they become targets of ridicule for their hypocrisy, not just their incompetence.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — August 20, 2009 @ 7:00 am
  3. “I view it all through the prism of F.A. Hayek; they cannot possibly have enough information and knowledge to rule over the swath of policy they task themselves with. It is not humanly possible. But when they add cowardice to the mix, then they become targets of ridicule for their hypocrisy, not just their incompetence.”

    Well put.

    Comment by Akston — August 20, 2009 @ 12:27 pm
  4. Our politicians now think of themselves as the nobility of the land, the nobles who meet with the king to decide the course of the country. They then return home to tell the serfs, that is the rest of us, how things are going to be.

    This is why they so greatly resent it when we speak back to their noble personages at town meetings, etc. with the rudeness to voice our lowly opinions.

    Comment by Dr.D — August 20, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

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