A causal story in Yahoo news caught my eye. It has to do with a botched ploy on the part of this Administration to sell guns to a cartel in Mexico in order to trace the movement of illegal guns and eventually prosecute the guilty parties. The idea went terribly wrong when one of the guns ended up killing a border guard and the Republicans are out to “get” the Administration presumably in behalf of the family of the man who was killed. The Administration is claiming executive privilege in order to keep secret the details of the story and the Republicans are going to take the Administration to court to force them to divulge details of the scam. The story reads in part,
House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that Republicans are preparing to file a civil suit in an attempt to gain access to more information pertaining to the Justice Department’s botched Fast & Furious cartel gun tracking program.
We have heard this story before. The only thing that changes are the parties involved. I am not going to question the notion of executive privilege, but I want to note the extraordinary limits to which partisan politics has gone in the country. England has a system that allows the government to “dissolve” itself if it reaches an impasse and it is clear that is has ceased to function. We have no such proviso and it has come to the point that we are stuck in the rut of an intransigent political system where parties are “at” one another constantly and are therefore unable to come together to solve the problems the nation faces on a daily basis. All they seem able to do is to call one another names and throw stones — or take one another to court at the nation’s expense.
The health care plan that was recently upheld by the Supreme Court is a case in point. It is going to be challenged by the Republicans — not because it is a bad plan (it is precisely the same in all major respects as the one Mitt Romney pushed through in Massachusetts) — but because it is plan pushed through by a Democratic President. Horrors! And now there will be a court case to force this Administration to disclose information that may or may not be of national importance. It doesn’t matter what the issue happens to be, one side or the other is going to throw stones and the other will necessarily respond in kind. And nothing important will get done.
The framers in their wisdom imagined a system that would be fluid and would make it possible to get things done, or the pieces would be changed. The electorate would be small enough and active enough and if politicians didn’t do their jobs they would be voted out of office. Term limits were not necessary because elections would happen on a regular basis: if a man [sic] is ineffective, he would be replaced. It’s that simple. One quick look through the Federalist Papers reveals the high levels of optimism and the obvious conviction that this system will work because elections would be a constant corrective.
As it happens, it is not that simple, because we now have corporations supporting wealthy politicians who find their niche in political office and cannot be removed with a keg of dynamite. The citizens of the country have become mere spectators of a comic spectacle, so far removed from what is happening in the seat of power that they are, in effect, disenfranchised. The system is broken. Clearly. The government ought to be dissolved; it has become stagnant and we are helpless to do anything about it.
We cannot really fault the framers. They wrote the Constitution for thirteen tiny, disparate colonies that regarded themselves as autonomous and were separated by distance, coinage, customs, laws, and at times even language. They couldn’t possibly have foreseen the present state of affairs. They never conceived of the power that multinational corporations would have to back their chosen men and women and accordingly never mentioned them in their writings. I have said it before and I will say it again. The Constitution is an obsolete document, remarkable as it is, and it is in need of radical revision. But that will not happen because those who might initiate revision are comfortable in their seats of power from which they will not, they cannot, be moved.