Hope Not Gone for Deadlocked Congress

If our representatives will focus on the Big Issues, the nation's business can be done.

Our founding fathers envisioned a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." The Declaration of Independence stated it nicely: Our government derives its "just powers from the consent of the governed." This sublime thought was meant to ensure that our political institutions adequately reflected the will of our society.

Mission accomplished: Both the House and the Senate are as evenly divided as the public. In other countries, this sort of governmental deadlock often gives birth to demagogues and popular uprisings. In America, where human rights are deeply ingrained in the law and held by the populace to be self-evident, words supplant weapons.

But battle lines have already been drawn, with the rival political factions behaving like irritated children holding their breath, exhaling only long enough to spit accusations. Voter fraud, manipulation, and electoral theft are the tunes currently being carried by both parties. Each side has dug in its heels--deadlocked, intractable, and seemingly content to bloody the other with smear campaigns designed to make it look like the other stole--or tried to steal--the election.

Soon enough, things may change: The popular buzz around D.C. is that Strom Thurmond, the 98-year old senator from South Carolina (he'll be 100 years old when his current term ends) is pondering early retirement. At the same time, there have been whispers about Senator Jesse Helm's (R-North Carolina) deteriorating health. Should both these men vacate their offices, the respective governors of North and South Carolina would have the authority to anoint interim senators. Since both those governors are Democrats, the process would favor Democratic appointees, thus tipping the balance in Congress toward the Democrats.

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Currently though, the congressional waters remain frozen. It appears that the only certainty is that the stench of illegitimacy will taint the next government. That is to say, the atmosphere will resemble that which enveloped President Gerald Ford following Nixon's historic resignation.

At the time, President Ford was saddled with the task of healing a nation torn by an eroding faith in its leaders. Upon taking office, Ford's popularity swelled, as the public hoped for change. Roughly one month later, Ford pardoned Nixon, and his popularity spiraled downward. Popular wisdom holds that President Ford could not afford such an ambitious or radical move because he simply was not perceived by the public as a legitimate president.

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Armstrong Williams
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