Since 1789, it has ALWAYS been possible that someone would forsake the implicit compact of "honor" and "game" the Constitution; would pervert the presumptions of the social contract and turn freedom, and fairness, and equity against the people; would realize that a government "of, for, and by" the people could be easily transformed into a government of, for, and by the Elites whereby, if something accidentally benefited the people, well, shit happens.
I am sure that the Founders were smart enough to have foreseen and understood that for the "noble experiment" of USer 'democracy' NOT to fail miserably, the participants would be required to act in "good faith." They possessed and preacticed an ethos of personal "honor," and so, even if they could have foreseen the temptations of "gaming" the system, they would have relied on the "honor" of the actors--and their understanding of the fragility of the system--to preserve it.
They didn't figure on Ronnie Raygun or Newt Gingrich (okay, nobody could have foreseen the Cheney co-Presidency with the Chimp). Persons with less of that which was traditionally known as "honor" would be difficult to name. Great despots come to mind, but no "democrats."
So, when Stanley Kutler, writing at TrugthDig yesterday, claims that "Congress Is Broken" (and it undeniably IS broken; and leaking toxics across the entire politics of the land), he's only touching part--albeit an important part--of the problem.
Congress is broken. The framers of the Constitution, building on nearly six centuries of parliamentary experience, situated Congress at the heart of the American constitutional system. Representative government was believed to be the purest, and yet workable, means of self-government. For the past twenty-five years, however, Congress has made a joke of that system, as it has trivialized and mocked any meaningful representation in the sense that the makers of the Constitution framed it.Congress, hopelessly ion the thrall of the most powerful, richest CorpoRat interest on the planet, CANNOT act in the interest of the "people" without aggravating the owners and donors who keep the parties in power.
That sense was best captured by Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the great English parliamentarian and statesman, whose work became the lodestar for the rising intellectual conservative movement fifty years ago. Burke was a contemporary of the founding fathers and a keen observer of the American scene. Today, however, he is not in fashion; in particular, when neo-conservatives and neo-liberals alike celebrate the historical expansion and maintenance of the American empire, they ignore Burke’s warning that “great empires and small minds go ill together.”
Burke had much to say about the role of peoples’ representatives. He acknowledged that representatives owed the “strictest union . . . and the most unreserved communication” to their constituents, yet he insisted that representatives possess “independent judgment and enlightened conscience.” A representative must strike a delicate balance, offering constituents “his judgment,” said Burke, while bearing in mind that “he betrays, instead of serving [them], if he sacrifices it to [their] opinion.” Burke recognized it is easy to “run into the perilous extremes of servile compliance or wild popularity.” Instead, the interest of the whole community must be pursued, not some local, individual interest, or a “momentary enthusiasm.”
In The Federalist No. 10, James Madison saw the danger of representatives pandering to “factions,” or groups “actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest adverse to . . . the permanent and aggregate interest of the community.” Burke and Madison alike would be appalled by Congress’s ready acquiescence to executive power.
Congress has been a spectator to President George W. Bush’s Iraq war and to the shameful use of “enhanced interrogation” and other forms of torture which were widely documented during Bush’s presidency. Congressional Democrats roundly criticized the Bush administration for maintaining the prison facilities at Guantanamo. Although Bush’s successor now has made pointed efforts to remove and reject such polices, Congress is once again derelict, as it refuses to take any responsibility for cleaning up after the Bush crew.