Democrats' Tyranny of the Minority

Talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh has repeated for years his belief that as a political party, the Democrats feel entitled to power.  When they are denied it by the results of an election, they react as though they are the victims of a grave injustice, thereby at liberty to engage in whatever tactic is necessary to retrieve what is rightfully theirs.  Beginning with the Wisconsin walkout and now embodied in the temper tantrum of Indiana Democrats, the self-professed Doctor of Democracy has once again been proven right.

Statehouse walkouts are not without precedent.  In fact, they are a reasonably common occurrence.  But they are largely symbolic gestures -- an attempt to demonstrate the minority's outraged disapproval of the majority's agenda.  Seldom do they go on for days, and until now, never have they been legitimate attempts to undermine the entire democratic process by grinding the operation of government to a halt.

Yet that is exactly what the Wisconsin Democrats attempted, and what their Indiana counterparts are still shamefully perpetrating.  What is taking place in the Indiana Statehouse is far from a mere regional or petty statewide issue; it is a direct assault on the democratic process that deserves national attention and collective, bipartisan scorn.  For while the Wisconsin constitution allowed the Republicans a procedural recourse to rectify the stalemate (something they employed when it became apparent the Democrats could not be lured back by compromise), Indiana Republicans have no such option.

For those who may be unaware, Indiana Statehouse Democrats staged a walkout a month ago to deny the large Republican majority the ability to enact legislation opposed by public and private union bosses - specifically right-to-work and public education reform laws.  The Democrat caucus fled across state lines to Illinois (where else?), and have been holed up in a hotel demanding concession after concession to earn their return.  But even after capitulating to their juvenile fit and pulling the right-to-work law off the table, Republican leaders have been unsuccessful in luring the Democrats back to work.

Indiana House Speaker, Republican Brian Bosma, acknowledged as much when he lamented, "We can't do the Madison shuffle that Wisconsin legislators were able to accomplish."  The consequence of that reality?  Given that Indiana has a part-time legislature, the stalemate will most likely cease only when the session adjourns and Governor Mitch Daniels calls the Assembly back into special session to pass a budget and new redistricting maps - the only items the legislature is required by law to pass.  This special session may give Republicans some wiggle room, but the likelihood is that the Democrat temper-tantrum will have killed the passage of virtually every bill introduced this year.

There's a phrase for what is occurring in Indiana; it's called the "tyranny of the minority."  In Federalist #10, James Madison warned against the tyranny of the majority by proposing that a republican form of representative democracy would best protect the rights of the minority.  What he apparently didn't count on was that in an effort to appease their union masters, the minority would one day use those protections to obliterate the democratic process.  And that is precisely what is unfolding.

It's telling that the phrase "tyranny of the minority" has been employed in recent years by Democrat apologists angry at the Republican Party's use of the filibuster to stall Democrat-sponsored legislation.  Watching Republicans require a supermajority of 60 Senators to pass some of Barack Obama's most controversial policies (thereby slowing his left-wing revolution of government), Democrat consultant Peter Fenn thundered, "This is the tyranny of the minority...This acceptance of a supermajority to get anything done in America has gotten way out of hand...There is a place for a supermajority: impeachment, eviction of members, veto overrides, votes on treaties and constitutional amendments.  But we should not have such requirements for the regular conduct of legislative business, especially at times like these, when action is required to move the country forward."

One must wonder where Mr. Fenn and his counterparts are now.  After all, while both parties' overuse of the filibuster to obstruct legislation is a fair topic of conversation, it pales in comparison to the unseemly tactic of a group of lawmakers who hold representative democracy itself hostage by refusing to show up for work.  Because while a filibuster is levied to obtain critical changes and adjustments to pending legislation, these walkouts are a brazen attempt to thwart the will of the people expressed in an election.

As Bosma explained, "We've offered a number of concessions on substitutive matters on issues of concern to the Democrats. What we have not agreed to do is to meet their demand to remove issues for the remainder of the legislative session in both chambers, which is their continued demand, that these issues just go away, really nullifying the election results of November 2."

And that's why reasonable and fair minded individuals from around the country and from both sides of the aisle should be outraged at this stunt.  The dangerous precedent being set here is that whatever party loses the election should just flee the state to prevent the winners from passing any laws.  This un-statesmanlike chicanery annihilates the very republican form of government our Constitution guarantees.

In his article, Fenn complained, "We have seen the rapid evolution of a nation that covets the concept of majority rule to one where the tyranny of the minority threatens to paralyze the country."  Indeed it does.  Nothing less than the democratic process is at stake.  And ironically, it's the group of folks who euphemistically and now wholly inappropriately refer to themselves as the Democratic Party who have the gun to its head.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email peter@peterheck.com, visit www.peterheck.com, or like him on Facebook.
Talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh has repeated for years his belief that as a political party, the Democrats feel entitled to power.  When they are denied it by the results of an election, they react as though they are the victims of a grave injustice, thereby at liberty to engage in whatever tactic is necessary to retrieve what is rightfully theirs.  Beginning with the Wisconsin walkout and now embodied in the temper tantrum of Indiana Democrats, the self-professed Doctor of Democracy has once again been proven right.

Statehouse walkouts are not without precedent.  In fact, they are a reasonably common occurrence.  But they are largely symbolic gestures -- an attempt to demonstrate the minority's outraged disapproval of the majority's agenda.  Seldom do they go on for days, and until now, never have they been legitimate attempts to undermine the entire democratic process by grinding the operation of government to a halt.

Yet that is exactly what the Wisconsin Democrats attempted, and what their Indiana counterparts are still shamefully perpetrating.  What is taking place in the Indiana Statehouse is far from a mere regional or petty statewide issue; it is a direct assault on the democratic process that deserves national attention and collective, bipartisan scorn.  For while the Wisconsin constitution allowed the Republicans a procedural recourse to rectify the stalemate (something they employed when it became apparent the Democrats could not be lured back by compromise), Indiana Republicans have no such option.

For those who may be unaware, Indiana Statehouse Democrats staged a walkout a month ago to deny the large Republican majority the ability to enact legislation opposed by public and private union bosses - specifically right-to-work and public education reform laws.  The Democrat caucus fled across state lines to Illinois (where else?), and have been holed up in a hotel demanding concession after concession to earn their return.  But even after capitulating to their juvenile fit and pulling the right-to-work law off the table, Republican leaders have been unsuccessful in luring the Democrats back to work.

Indiana House Speaker, Republican Brian Bosma, acknowledged as much when he lamented, "We can't do the Madison shuffle that Wisconsin legislators were able to accomplish."  The consequence of that reality?  Given that Indiana has a part-time legislature, the stalemate will most likely cease only when the session adjourns and Governor Mitch Daniels calls the Assembly back into special session to pass a budget and new redistricting maps - the only items the legislature is required by law to pass.  This special session may give Republicans some wiggle room, but the likelihood is that the Democrat temper-tantrum will have killed the passage of virtually every bill introduced this year.

There's a phrase for what is occurring in Indiana; it's called the "tyranny of the minority."  In Federalist #10, James Madison warned against the tyranny of the majority by proposing that a republican form of representative democracy would best protect the rights of the minority.  What he apparently didn't count on was that in an effort to appease their union masters, the minority would one day use those protections to obliterate the democratic process.  And that is precisely what is unfolding.

It's telling that the phrase "tyranny of the minority" has been employed in recent years by Democrat apologists angry at the Republican Party's use of the filibuster to stall Democrat-sponsored legislation.  Watching Republicans require a supermajority of 60 Senators to pass some of Barack Obama's most controversial policies (thereby slowing his left-wing revolution of government), Democrat consultant Peter Fenn thundered, "This is the tyranny of the minority...This acceptance of a supermajority to get anything done in America has gotten way out of hand...There is a place for a supermajority: impeachment, eviction of members, veto overrides, votes on treaties and constitutional amendments.  But we should not have such requirements for the regular conduct of legislative business, especially at times like these, when action is required to move the country forward."

One must wonder where Mr. Fenn and his counterparts are now.  After all, while both parties' overuse of the filibuster to obstruct legislation is a fair topic of conversation, it pales in comparison to the unseemly tactic of a group of lawmakers who hold representative democracy itself hostage by refusing to show up for work.  Because while a filibuster is levied to obtain critical changes and adjustments to pending legislation, these walkouts are a brazen attempt to thwart the will of the people expressed in an election.

As Bosma explained, "We've offered a number of concessions on substitutive matters on issues of concern to the Democrats. What we have not agreed to do is to meet their demand to remove issues for the remainder of the legislative session in both chambers, which is their continued demand, that these issues just go away, really nullifying the election results of November 2."

And that's why reasonable and fair minded individuals from around the country and from both sides of the aisle should be outraged at this stunt.  The dangerous precedent being set here is that whatever party loses the election should just flee the state to prevent the winners from passing any laws.  This un-statesmanlike chicanery annihilates the very republican form of government our Constitution guarantees.

In his article, Fenn complained, "We have seen the rapid evolution of a nation that covets the concept of majority rule to one where the tyranny of the minority threatens to paralyze the country."  Indeed it does.  Nothing less than the democratic process is at stake.  And ironically, it's the group of folks who euphemistically and now wholly inappropriately refer to themselves as the Democratic Party who have the gun to its head.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email peter@peterheck.com, visit www.peterheck.com, or like him on Facebook.

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