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No matter where you stand on the fiscal cliff, or its previous or subsequent promontories, there should be universal disgust with how this country is being governed. What we have is not crisis management, but management by crisis. I may be an idealist, by I suspect that our Founding Fathers did not design our government policies to essentially come down to private negotiations between two men. Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell can't lay claim to any great constitutional powers, yet both men have written the tax policy of this country for the next 4 years. This kind of thing can't continue if we are going to have a functional republic. We need to restore normalcy to the process of policy making in this country.

Perhaps I'm an idealist, but I still think the Schoolhouse Rock way of making a bill a law is the right way to go. Some folks back home get an idea. A courageous congressperson spends years fighting for it. Some enterprising politician makes it a national issue. A committee of jurisdiction takes up the bill for markup. There is a floor debate, and a conference committee, a vote and a presidential verdict of some sort. It isn't too much to ask that this be done. That public issues are thoroughly and publicly weighed and considered via the Constitutional process. It is sad day when our Republic teeters on the secret discussions between two old men while the rest of America serves as a rubber stamp of their agreement.

Perhaps we've reached a point in the history of this country where the Constitution no longer works effectively. It is something to consider. The most recent change to our tax law was never considered for one day by the House Ways and Means Committee, a committee whose very name was created in the Constitution. It is the oldest standing legislative committee in the world, the first committee that the 1st Congress created. And yet, this committee, whose very existence is generated by the exclusive power of the House to originate any form of tax, did zero work on our tax policy. No hearings. No horse trading. Not even a chance for lobbyists to bend and shape and cajole. Forget about the public reaction. Instead, it was written by the vice president and the Senate minority leader in secret negotiations over a 48-hour period. I'm not arguing that any of this is legally unconstutional. Technically it isn't. But, this isn't ethically constitutional.This isn't how American government is supposed to work. It isn't the right way to make laws.

This form of national management is starting to set a bad precedent. Today it is tax policy, but tomorrow it will be the bill of rights. One day many other important policies will be written by two men in secret, whose motivations and interests will never be known to any of us. They'll decide we must go to war, they'll pass the declaration at 2 AM and have an electronic pen sign it into law by dawn. Congress will play no other role other than to approve it in order to avoid some other manufactured calamity that will befall us if they do not. This is what will happen if crisis government becomes the norm. This sort of thing is what leads republics to things like the Enabling Act, which was sold, of course, as a temporary measure to prevent an even worse calamity.

It is incumbent that the American people, of all political stripes, begin to demand a return to regular order: a normal process of policy making that reflects our small r republican values and respects the Constitutional vision of lawmaking.

Originally posted to Triple-B in the Building on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:01 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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