The dust up over the budget and the debt ceiling that consumed the attention of Congress and President Barack Obama for the past month was not resolved. The disagreements were continued for another three months. Nothing of substance will be learned in that period of time and no new solutions will be discovered, offered or accepted. And the reason, quite frankly, is that neither Mr. Obama nor the leaders of the Democrat or Republican parties are actually seeking a solution – they are seeking an advantage. They are not waiting for a substantive accommodation – they are waiting for a shift in the polls. In the end there is no greater reason to expect an outcome different next time than this time and the parties will “kick the can” down the road a little farther.
It is here that the parliamentary form of government has an advantage over our system – one party (or coalition) is responsible for the whole of government, including the passage, implementation and administration of laws. Blame or credit is the sole responsibility of the party in power. It also produces the concept of the “loyal opposition.”
The reference to a “loyal” opposition is supposed to connote that while the minority party opposes the party in power it still remains loyal to the country and the form of government – it will do nothing to injure the country or its people on a national or international basis. (That would prove to be pointless if applied in America because the majority party under Mr. Obama and his wing of the Democrat Party have already proven that they can destroy America’s international standing all by themselves – we have gone from disliked but respected under President George W. Bush to disrespected and don’t give a damn under Mr. Obama.)
The “loyal opposition” has three major duties. First is to establish a “shadow government” – that is, to organize so that individuals have a responsibility for understanding and examining every aspect of the majority government. It also permits a rapid transition of government with experienced people at the helm and thus avoids casting about for the seemingly endless supply of incompetents hired by presidential administrations – most notably Mr. Obama.
Second, the “loyal opposition” provides pointed commentary to the public on the disagreements with and the failings of the governing party’s activities. And in this, they are not distracted by other events. This is a critical function in that it demands accountability of whichever party is in power – a concept largely lost on the current crop of politicians on either side of the aisle.
And third, the “loyal opposition” provides a set of comprehensive alternatives to be offered for consideration by the public. So, for instance, in the case of Obamacare, it would be insufficient to simply criticize it for being the “train wreck” that it is; a viable alternative would have to be offered and that alternative could range from a defense of the system prior to Obamacare, to a series of solutions for the most glaring problems of the old system, to an alternative comprehensive system. It would apply to the whole cornucopia of foreign and domestic agenda confronting the nation.
I don’t provide this commentary for purposes of advocating the parliamentary form of government. (The last time America had one party rule – the first two years of Mr. Obama’s administration – the country wound up with the highly unpopular Obamacare, a Trillion dollars wasted on a government “stimulus” program that did nothing for the economy but did stimulate the growth and recurring cost of government, and the burying of a massive scandal that involved the transfer of taxpayer funds to a highly politicized group of community organizers whose primary goal was the recruitment and election of more liberal Democrats – remember ACORN and its affiliates.) I like the tension that exists in the separate but equal branches of government. The fact that little gets done when each party controls some part of that troika usually demonstrates that the amount of government we have is unnecessary. I provide this commentary because I think that the Republicans should practice the concept of “loyal opposition” better – particularly the latter two aspects above.
Three major scandals have occurred in the last year. Over a year ago our ambassador and three others were killed in Benghazi, Libya. Despite reliable intelligence indicating that the ambassador had been targeted by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, the security was drawn down by the Obama administration and they failed to respond once the attack was underway. Now, more than twelve months later, the American public knows no more than it did in the weeks following the attack and murders. We don’t know who gave the order for the draw down of security, the stand down for assistance once the attack began, or the bogus cover-up story about the video that the Obama administration trotted as an excuse. We don’t even know where the President Obama or Secretary of State were at the time of the attack or in the aftermath. And, to date, nobody has been terminated, disciplined or arrested, including the perpetrators of the murders.
We have the revelation that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) acted repeatedly to delay the tax exempt status of a variety of conservative organizations based on their names or stated objectives – including their opposition to Mr. Obama or his policies. While Democrats continue to focus on the fact that a few progressive organizations got highlighted using the same “keyword” filters, they continue to ignore the fact that only the conservative organizations were delayed while all of the progressive ones were fast tracked for approval. And yet today, almost a year later, the public knows no more than it did in the weeks following the initial disclosures. We don’t know who gave the order, who received the information gleaned from the intrusive and illegal examinations, and for what purposes the information was used subsequently. Nobody has been terminated or disciplined although several have retired with full pensions and benefits. What little information that has been provided comes from a select few news organizations while the vast majority of the mainstream media remain steadfastly ignorant and uninterested.
And we have the revelation that the Obama administration has been spying on its own citizens by intercepting, recording and storing wireless and internet communications. The breadth of that scandal has been buried in the new revelations of spying on the leaders of friendly governments – a fact that is surprising only to those wishing to deflect attention from the real scandal of domestic spying. And yet, almost a year later, we don’t know who gave the order, who received the information gleaned from the intrusive and illegal spying, and for what purposes the information was used subsequently. Nobody has been terminated or disciplined. In fact, the majority of the outrage is visited upon the person disclosing the illegal acts rather than those perpetrating them.
The Republican House of Representatives has all of the power necessary to exercise a robust exercise of its oversight functions. Those powers include hearings, subpoenas, contempt proceedings and enforcement of contempt orders in the courts. The fact that the Obama administration has successfully stonewalled all of these matters is due largely to the reticence of Republicans to act on a timely and decisive basis. There is a game in Washington that avoids the truth through uncompromising civility and comity. But the net effect is to protect the government class at the expense of the governed. It is not sufficient to demand accountability before the nation’s cameras; you must use the tools available aggressively and actively to affect accountability.
In the immortal words of Larry the Cable Guy – “Get ‘er done.”