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When Lame Ducks Bite

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

This year, for the first time since modern budgeting began, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has simply refused to pass a budget resolution. Presumably, the failure even to take up a budget would free plenty of time for the Congress to complete the rest of its work. But remarkably – and disturbingly – plans are already in the offing to postpone important legislative business until after the November elections.


Politico’s Mike Allen recently reported that The White House plans to schedule the Senate-House conference on a cap ‘n trade bill for after the upcoming elections “so House members don’t have to take another tough vote ahead of midterms.” And just last week, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin suggested the same technique might work to pass the unpopular card check legislation, noting that “[a] lot of things can happen in a lame-duck session.”

If either cap ‘n trade or card check legislation should pass in a lame duck session, it won’t be the first time that the Obama White House and the 111th Congress has resorted to trickery in order to ram through unpopular legislation. In fact, it won’t even be the most glaring example. That distinction, of course, belongs to ObamaCare, where Democrats resorted to an unprecedented use of the budget reconciliation process in order to pass the most sweeping social legislation in a generation, defying outspoken public opposition.

But whether it’s using reconciliation to achieve purposes for which it was never intended or delaying important votes until after midterm elections, all the Democrats’ legislative flim-flammery reveals an ugly truth: The members of the 111th congressional majority care less about representing the people who elected them than enacting their own agenda, even when it clearly contradicts the public will.


Certainly, threats to national security, emergencies or other special situations could justify lawmakers with classified information or special knowledge taking positions at odds with the opinions of their constituents. But ObamaCare, cap ‘n trade, and card check fall within none of these categories -- quite the opposite. They are simply profoundly partisan pieces of domestic legislation about which the American people have had ample time to learn, and which they roundly reject.

Perhaps what’s most disturbing about Democrats’ naked political ambition is the contempt it bespeaks for the opinions of the ordinary Americans who voted them into office. If voters clearly oppose a party’s agenda and send a clear message to that effect – whether it’s by electing a formerly unknown member of the opposition party to a U.S. Senate seat in a special election or voting that party out in massive numbers during midterms – a decent respect for the will of the people would seem to compel obedience to voters’ expressed wishes.

This is a matter that transcends partisan differences – or should. When politicians of either party serving at the people’s pleasure brazenly refuse to act in accord with the wishes of those they purportedly represent – and, in fact, collude and strategize to find ways to subvert the popular will – it isn’t just outrageous, disheartening and profoundly unbecoming (though it is all of those). It actually represents a challenge to the concept of democracy itself, and an assault on the civic health of a democratic republic.


And as a result, more than anything, it imposes upon fair-minded citizens of all parties an important responsibility: That of administering a stinging rebuke to politicians who have forgotten that they are supposed to work to represent their fellow citizens, not to rule them. Let’s hope it’s a responsibility Americans take seriously, come next November.

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