There is no question that the founders of our democracy did a great job crafting a constitution that anticipated most of the problems that they determined could occur. Crafting three co-equal branches of government was a stroke of genius that has served us well for most of our history.
But nobody can anticipate everything that can possibly happen. It is clear that the founders did not anticipate the emergence of political parties. Their intent was for each elected official to represent the interests of those voters that elected them.
Had they anticipated political parties my guess is that the founders would have limited their participation in the political process. Our frequent use of the phrase “our two party system” leads many to assume that political parties were a part of the U.S. Constitution.
However, there is no mention of political parties.
The Constitution was ratified in 1788. The Democratic Party was founded in 1828; the Republican Party in 1854.Throughout most of our history there were moderates in both parties; and there was a general understanding that they needed to get something done on important issues. This required compromise.
Today, the only way seemingly to get something done is for one party to control the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. That’s because the party out of power is determined to make certain that the party in power is prevented from accomplishing anything important. The more the party in power accomplishes, the harder it will be to defeat them in the next election.
The result? Ongoing gridlock.
So what do we do?
I can think of several things but most are probably not doable. I will offer one proposal because it’s simple, non-partisan and I am convinced most voters would support, which should make it do-able.
A bill should be passed that REQUIRES the Senate and the House to vote on any legislation or resolution that has the support of 20 percent of its members.
If such a bill became law, important legislation such as immigration reform, infrastructure and gun control would pass immediately in my view.
Such a proposed bill is not liberal or conservative. It’s common sense. The founders would not have allowed the right to vote to be at the discretion of the speakers of the House or Senate.
The bill I suggest would merely require elected officials to do what they were elected to do: Vote on legislation!
We could call it the Do Your Job Bill.
(Mabra Holeyfield is a businessman and the author of “Use What You Got.” Email: [email protected].)