Politicians don’t make laws, lawmakers do. And sadly we have plethora of politicians and a dearth of lawmakers.
Laws order societies. They provide guidelines for commerce, social behavior, governmental administration, and public safety. Laws often find their roots in, and are forced to meander back to their relevant guiding document, such as the US Constitution or the English Magna Carta. The limiting of the force of laws by such documents guarantees personal freedoms ensures a certain orderliness in that society that reflects the founders’ vision, and places boundaries to lawmaking by the limiting and sharing of governmental power.
Effective lawmaking requires a vision for improvement, a congruous and coherent pathway to that vision, and an implementation scheme that ensures the functionality of the law over time. Successful implementation plans include appropriate administrative guidelines, adequate levels of funding if required, and enforcement provisions as necessary and relevant exceptions if appropriate. It is the singular responsibility of lawmakers to ensure that any legislation that gets passed, meets those base requirements, is Constitutional, and functional. That would be responsible lawmaking.
The functionality of legislation can be measured in myriad of ways. Was the law found un-Constitutional? Is more than one aspect, if any, bogged down in the courts? Did it survive the weight of its own administrative requirements? Did the funding meet the envisioned or actual expense? Is the program sustainable over time? How big is the administrative tail? How well is it functioning? Is anything positive actually being accomplished?
Often, in today’s climate, a lack of concern over the functionality of newly passed legislation seems to be the only area where bi-partisan agreement can be reached. Which is the crux; we no longer have legislators or lawmakers inside the venerated halls of congress, we simply have politicians. And politicians don’t seem to want to, or care to make very good laws.
Political agendas today are dominated by complex vote-buying legislation, and where real, necessary legislation is consistently avoided over time. The new immigration proposal as an example of the former, and the failure to correct the wonton ills of the Social Security system provide and example of the latter.