This is a question I’ve been wanting to ask for years, because the older I get, the more I’m scratching my head going “wait, isn’t Congress supposed to do ______?”
I find it a bit dismaying that the leaders that are supposed to most closely represent our wishes at the highest levels of government seem content to let that responsibility slide. With each successive president, the powers of the presidency seem to increase with little or no say from the Legislative Branch to curb it.
To cheer myself up, I’ll go watch “I’m just a Bill” from my Schoolhouse Rock DVD collection and sing along.
…Okay, I’m back.
And I found a report full of really big words from Heritage.org, written back in 2011, that is a good start. At least until I get through my big books of primary sources on constitutional history…which’ll take a while. And The Federalist Papers. And The Anti-Federalist Papers & the Constitutional Conventions.
I would like to go back and review how government is “supposed” to work because it feels like there’s been an awful lot of take and very little give from the presidency. I want to understand if it can go back, if the reversal of power is a good thing or even possible at this point. If a president were willing to relinquish some power that’s been granted to him/her, could they (and would it even be accepted)?
And no, I’m not talking specifically about Dump (I admit, still can’t say his name). And not Obama, or Dubya, or Clinton, or the first Bush…it’s a systemic problem that’s been ramping up for decades and no one man in the presidency is responsible for it.
I’ve been wondering about what the legislative branch has been thinking regarding the presidency and it’s power. I wonder because there doesn’t seem to be any respect for the presidency on behalf of the legislative, and little to no respect for the legislative from the presidency. Last night dad had FUX news on again (I’d hoped with O’Reilly gone he’d given up watching–at least he doesn’t ask me to watch with him anymore), and they were complaining on Hannity that the press and the Congress were all ganging up on the president, unwilling to give him a chance.
He sees “ganging up.” I see “backfire effect.”
I wonder why the legislative branch hasn’t done much previously– other than folding their arms and pouting and dragging their heels– to keep its influence. The government feels like it’s resorted to “time-out” methods to “get it’s way,” no matter who it spites, on both sides. Instead of worrying about curbing the awesome power of one man and a staff in the White House, we have to worry about 535 other whiny children that are too busy infighting to do the job.
I do have a bit of a theory regarding this–especially when it comes to the biggest responsibility I can think of which was about the war powers. Over time, Congress has just asked for a bit of info and input to say “okay” when it was time to attack. Congress realizes that they have elections coming up and don’t want the responsibility, so they just let the president do what he wants to do.
If things go well, they claim they were all for it. If they go to crap, they can slam the president and insist that they knew it was a bad idea all along.
And then I found this former congressman‘s explanation–I think we’re in a similar place.
My Theory: Congress is full of wusses that are trying so hard to keep their jobs that they’re not doing their jobs. Election’s around the corner ALL THE TIME, so their focus is fundraising for the next election.
I listened to an interview with a congressman who told the ins and outs of his day (who it was, I can’t remember, and I heard some bits from Dan Carlin from his Common Sense show about Jesse Ventura telling him the same). Most of it was spent on the phone trying to get money and support for policies, not actively crafting legislation.
In short, they’re overpaid telemarketers now. Don’t they have a staff to delegate that crap to? It seems their staff is mainly there to make sure the representative does it.
And while they’re scrambling and playing the blame game, the president takes their distraction for granted and does what he wants.
Congress is supposed to have a bigger and better part than it has now. On the other hand, with the intense tribalism and party being above country, I wonder if it’s actually better that they don’t have a bigger part…at least right now.
Sheesh, that became a tough question really fast. I don’t care who gets the credit–if it benefits the people, it’s a win-win. Who cares about the party if we’re all doing well?
Just before the 2016 election, I wrote a post about how we don’t actually have to vote for the president if the choices are so disgusting (as many people I know claimed, hence their not wanting to vote). I wrote with such optimism (at least on Congress’ part) because I figured that those representatives, being so much closer to us, would work for us.
Ugh, some dreams die fast and hard.
Anyway, war powers is a big one I can think of. Now I’m trying to remember what else Congress used to do (or was supposed to do) that seems to have drifted into the presidential camp.
Any help would be great…I’m still digging.