According to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) those members of his faction , the Democratic Party, most likely to be defeated in 2010 are the very members difficult to pull into party line. As reported in a recent article in The Hill Waxman was very clear on why he believes many will lose their seat in Congress this coming election actually referring to weeding out difficult Democrats. This line of thinking is critical to understanding the root problem we face under a governing standard based on the rule of law resting with the people.

Quoting the Berman and Hooper article, “I think a lot of the House seats we’re going to lose are those who have been the toughest for the Democrats to pull into line — the Democrats that have been the most difficult,” Waxman said. When we understand the job of the Majority or Minority Whip as the person responsible for whipping faction members into line with the rest of the party it is not surprising someone with as long a career as Waxman has had feels these Democrats are difficult. He is not alone as a believer in party members serving in Congress for the benefit of the party rather than the people.

A former U.S. Senator from Illinois provides an even clearer understanding of how things work. In the article a story is told that quotes President Obama as saying the following to a wavering Democrat, “[y]ou’ve got to fight for what you want to do here, and then you’ve got to fight to get elected, and convince your constituents that this is what is in their interest and it’s important.” Consider this approach to running our Congress.

Under the initial concept of federalism the House of Representatives was to be the people’s house. Directly elected by the people, representatives understood what their constituents wanted as the representative came from the people represented. There was no whip or party leadership inside the halls of our Legislative Branch to pull into line different members of their faction. More importantly there was no need for the representative to tow a factional line and return home to ‘convince’ their constituents something was in their best interest even if it was something they did not openly or collectively embrace.

Although this brief look into the minds of career, factional politicians gives us an idea of how things work on both sides of the aisle is it the way we want it to work? Self-government at the lowest level, based on the fundamental principles of federalism, should not be subjected to such party bullying. Our representatives should not have to go to Congress and face party leadership inside the halls of government. However, as long as the people do not awaken to these accepted traditions of bully politics it will continue.

Over the past century, since the party caucus of the democrats and republicans has been in place, whips have not secured freedom. Instead the tradition has not only poisoned representative democracy in the national level house, the same structure and abuse has been adopted in every state legislative branch as well. At some point we must decide if we are sending people to be pulled, like some well cooked pork, or to represent the people rather than the strongest faction.iHill

cross-posted from the Utah Tenth Amendment Center

gary wood