Saturday, November 6, 2010

Define Success

Ezra Klein, liberal commenter at Newsweek, has an important article up that I recommend everyone read. As most people who either read this blog or know me can imagine, I do not agree with Klein's views of the various policies passed by the 111th Congress, but that is not why I am urging you to read his post.

The first two paragraphs sum up why this post (and the argument it makes in general) needs to be considered. They read:

The votes are (mostly) counted. The Republicans have clearly and decisively won. But did the Democrats actually lose?

They lost the election, certainly. And many of them lost their jobs. But the point of legislating isn’t job security. It’s legislation. And on that count the members of the 111th Congress succeeded wildly, even historically.

Nobody of any political persuasion should deny the historical nature of this last Congress and that it passed a great deal of important, sweeping legislation.

This legislation is also despised by the American people.

The Democrats won, yes. Hardcore liberals won, true. But the nation did not. The legislature does not exist to impose "progressive" policies on unwilling people; it exists to govern the people with their consent and according to set rules that respect the life, liberty, and property of individual Americans.

The Democrats were not supposed to win. That role is supposed to be reserved for the American people and the latest election proves that was not the case. Imposing legislation without the consent of the people (indeed, against their vocal and passionate opposition) is not an achievement we should condone.

Klein inadvertently proves this point in his last paragraph:

Polls have found that the public doesn’t realize how extraordinary this was. Most voters—and that holds for Democrats, too—don’t think the 111th got more accomplished than most Congresses. But they’re wrong. The 111th came to Washington promising to get things done on behalf of the American people. More than any other Congress in decades, it did.

A lot was done, certainly, but the American people noticed that it didn't help them a lick. Imposing a massive, unconstitutional, destructive health care bill is not an "accomplishment" in the book of public opinion. Spending untold hundreds of billions of "stimulus" dollars we have to pay with debt on unnecessary and corrupt spending programs is not an accomplishment according to the people.

An actual accomplishment of a national legislature is to create legislation that improves the situation. The 111th Congress failed miserably in this regard.

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