Monday, February 13, 2012

Post Constitutional Rule Making- A Conspiracy Against The Majority?

This Congress has proven one thing-the system as it is now being implemented doesn’t work. Congress, with a public approval of only 11%, has become useless in solving the nation’s problems. Further, the problem is not with the Constitution but the post constitutional rulemaking of Congress. To understand the situation you must consider that there are really two sets of rules running our country. This article gives some useful details.

The Federal Constitution contains first of all a set of rules that are the constitutional law behind congressional procedure. These are rules that regulate the operations of the government as directly specified in the document. To change these rules requires an amendment of the Constitution in the manner specified in the document itself. The second sets are procedures also necessary for governance but which are too voluminous to be specifically written into the Constitution by the Founders themselves. Ideally these procedures should provide the detailed follow-up required to implement the Constitution. They are established by subsequent legislatures and should follow the general intent of the founders. Establishing this boundary is difficult and was worked on diligently by the Founders. Unfortunately subsequent Congresses have created a management nightmare that has had a terrible effect on how we are operating our government. It is not the constitutional rules set by the Founders but the inept post-constitutional rule making that has brought our Congress down to a 11%approval rating.

We need only look at a few examples. One set of rules which has brought the organization to a halt is the requirement for a supermajority for too many actions. The Founders after long discussion decided on a 2/3 majority in overriding a veto and expelling a member and 3/4 of states in a constitution amendment. None of these requirements are affecting the management of Congress. Unfortunately future legislatures set an excessive number of actions requiring a supermajority in subsequent operating rules and procedures. This has created major operating problems where nothing can be passed.

If you look into the Constitution you find nothing about committee rules with chairman being appointed by political party; nothing about 60% required to override a filibuster; or of Congress taking all of the special privileges it has granted to itself. There are no provisions for the senatorial courtesy feature such as a single senator holding up an appointment. All of these anti-democratic actions that grant excessive power to a few over the majority are purely the work of post Constitution legislators-and far from the very democratic nature of the Constitution.

With such a terrible legacy of inefficient and bad management that has allowed a few to paralyze the majority Congress has become useless. There is indeed a necessity for an audit and review of the post-constitutional rules and procedures that have destroyed the Congress as a legislative body. That report should then be presented to the citizens for action.

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