The Power of the PurseIf the Left retakes Congress AND the Presidency, it is because the Right will not vote for the useless Republicans, not because that voting bloc turned Left. A legislator too afraid to be blamed for a president's tantrum over a reduced budget has no place in politics, and no place in constitutional governing. But the voter cannot know if his legislators are "real" or if they are puppets of the crony capitalist oligarchy. So why even vote??
“The truth is that modern liberty depends on the power of the purse. All of the great battles in England in the 17th century between the Crown and Parliament turned ultimately on the power of the purse. The members of Parliament were elected at least in part with an eye to achieving a redress of grievances, and that redress was the price they exacted for funding the Crown. Our legislature has given up that power. Our congressional leaders claim – once the election is over – that they have no leverage. If that is really true, then elections do not matter, and a redress of grievances is now beyond the legislature’s power. Absent that capacity, however, the legislature is virtually useless. Absent that capacity, it is contemptible — and let’s face it: the President and those who work under him have showered it with contempt.
There is a lesson to be learned from the current mess: Congress needs to reassert in a dramatic fashion the power of the purse, and the Republicans need to start keeping their promises. To do that, however, they will have to show a bit of backbone.
I will not defend Donald Trump. I will not assert that those who have backed him in the primaries are conducting themselves in a rational manner. But I will say this: they would not be backing the man if they did not feel betrayed, and they feel betrayed because they have been betrayed.
Look at it this way. In 2010 and 2014, the Republican Party was more successful electorally than at any time since 1928. What have those elected done with the mandate they received? Look above at Mona’s list of their accomplishments. It is, for the most part, a list of things that Barack Obama asked them to do and that they did not do. The real question is this: what concessions did they extract from the President? What did they, using the power of the purse, force him to do on behalf of their constituents? And the answer is: next to nothing. It is no wonder that so many of this year’s primary voters are spitting mad.
If the Republican Party is in the process of committing suicide, it is not due to the party’s constituents. It is due to the leaders who failed them. My guess, for what it is worth, is that in November the Republicans will lose their majority in the Senate and perhaps even the House. That is the sort of thing that happens when one gives short shrift to the concerns of one’s constituents.
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