Ever since the 111th Congress was seated following the 2008 elections, Democrats and their allies in the media have called the Republican minority overly partisan, the party of no, and obstructionists. While it is true that Republicans for the most part have been united in their opposition to President Obama’s liberal agenda, the effort by the left to chastise Republicans is absurd when compared to how Democrats have behaved this past year.
Americans got their first glimpse of just how serious Democrats were about passing their liberal agenda this past summer when the U.S. House of Representatives passed Cap and Trade legislation without allowing members of Congress to even read the bill on which they were voting. Little did we know that their rush to pass the Cap and Trade bill in the House was nothing compared to the extent that Democrats would go to pass their healthcare reform bill.
After members of Congress returned to Washington after getting an earful from the American public during the August recess, the House, under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership, began the process of bringing the bill to a vote. The longer the American public had the opportunity to communicate their frustrations to their representatives, the less likely it was to pass, and so the bill was rushed to a vote. In fact, House members were asked to stay is session well into a Saturday evening to cast their vote.
The bill passed with only one Republican vote. Congressman Joseph Cao, a freshmen Congressman from a liberal district in Louisiana, voted for the bill. Seventy-five percent of the people in Cao’s district voted for President Obama in the last election. John Kerry also received that level of support in Cao’s district in 2004. While the votes for and against line up along the political divide of the chamber, the fact that Democrats felt the need to hold members of Congress hostage on a weekend in November to pass the legislation is troubling.
Fast forward to Sen. Harry Reid’s decision to keep Senators in session on Christmas Eve, another attempt to stifle debate of the healthcare reform bill. Like in the House, Sen. Reid could not wait until after the holidays to have the vote on healthcare reform. So, instead of being at home with their families, 100 senators and their staffs were busy at work on Christmas Eve wrapping a present that most Americans did want to see under their tree on Christmas morning.
“Partisanship” does not involve opposing legislation which contradicts your principles, which is the case for most Republicans across the country. Partisanship is being hell-bent to pass sweeping legislation on a pre-determined deadline regardless of what the American people think about it. It’s not the Republicans who have been exposed as being partisans this year, it’s President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and their liberal counterparts who have shown no respect to the American people.
In Iowa, the state legislature operated in the same fashion at the urging of Governor Culver as the 2009 legislative session came to a close. While most Iowans were asleep during the wee hours on Sunday morning of April 26th, Iowa Democrats were plunging Iowans into debt to the tune of over $1 billion. Just like their counterparts in Washington, Democratic leaders in Iowa had to wait for the cover of darkness on a weekend to pass their unpopular legislation.
In this era where people say they want transparency, why have Democrats sought the cover of darkness during the hustle and bustle of holidays to pass their liberal agenda? For a Party who claimed to have won a clear mandate in the 2006 and 2008 elections, they sure seem afraid to do business during normal business hours.
It will be easy for Republicans to remind voters next fall of all the Democrat shenanigans, but to win elections, they will need to do more than expose the sins of political opponents. Republicans nationally and here in Iowa have done a lot of good work in saying “no” to the Democrat agenda, but the 2010 elections provide us with an opportunity for Republicans to set out on a new direction for our state and nation. For the sake of both, let’s hope they have put some thought into it.
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