The hubris of power

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - This ed­i­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Dal­las Morn­ing News on Nov. 13.

Repub­li­cans emerged from last week’s elec­tion with rare po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage — con­trol of the White House, the U.S. Se­nate and the U.S. House — not to men­tion a Supreme Court va­cancy to fill, putting GOP-ap­pointees back in the ma­jor­ity on the high­est court in the land.

The GOP briefly con­trolled Congress and the White House dur­ing parts of Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, and Democrats en­joyed con­trol of the House and a ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate when Obama took of­fice in 2009.

Be­fore that, Repub­li­cans hadn’t amassed such a con­sol­i­da­tion of power since 1928. Add in state­houses across the coun­try this year and the GOP’s leg­isla­tive power is ex­tra­or­di­nary.

With power comes the temp­ta­tion to over­reach. No­body knows this bet­ter than to­day’s Repub­li­cans, who have spent the last eight years com­plain­ing bit­terly about be­ing shut out of pol­icy de­vel­op­ment and re­form ef­forts by an “im­pe­rial” Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Two months into the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, then-Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Mitch McConnell ac­cused the new pres­i­dent of fail­ing to work with Repub­li­cans as he moved ahead with an am­bi­tious agenda that in­cluded pas­sage of a stim­u­lus pack­age and health care re­form. The par­ti­san ran­cor es­ca­lated when Repub­li­cans Texas Se­nate John Cornyn, Rand Paul of Ken­tucky and for­mer House speaker John Boehner — among oth­ers — ac­cused Obama of act­ing like a king as he used the power of the of­fice to try and break the leg­isla­tive grid­lock.

Now the roles are re­versed. But the logic re­mains the same. Our sys­tem of rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy is de­signed to em­power the ma­jor­ity while pro­tect­ing the mi­nor­ity.

So the ques­tion be­comes: Will Repub­li­cans gov­ern the way they ar­gued that Democrats should have? Or was that just par­ti­san bom­bast? Will they suc­cumb to the im­pe­rial ten­den­cies of rul­ing par­ties and over­reach them­selves?

Power is se­duc­tive. And mem­o­ries can be short. Wield­ing their power for long-term sus­tain­abil­ity, rather than short­term gain, is the chal­lenge that now con­fronts Pres­i­dent-elect Trump and the Repub­li­can Party.

Trump promised re­peat­edly dur­ing the cam­paign to re­voke many ex­ec­u­tive or­ders that Obama signed into law. The most likely tar­gets are or­ders sup­port­ing Oba­macare, the Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship, cli­mate change, the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals and any­thing re­lated to end­ing sanc­tions against Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram. As pres­i­dent, that will be his right. But as pres­i­dent, what to put in their place — how to as­sure greater ac­ces­si­bil­ity to health care, how to grow mar­kets for U.S. prod­ucts, how to en­hance U.S. se­cu­rity — will be his re­spon­si­bil­ity. To fill those voids will re­quire out­reach, ne­go­ti­a­tion, cre­ativ­ity — and com­pro­mise.

Trump pledged last week to unify the coun­try, to be pres­i­dent for all Amer­i­cans. He and his party have won the right to lead the way and to set the na­tion’s agenda.

But Trump and the party would be wise to re­mem­ber the lessons from their own ex­pe­ri­ence in the mi­nor­ity. Gen­uine across­the-aisle over­tures would go a long way to­ward eas­ing grid­lock that so par­a­lyzes Wash­ing­ton and in­fu­ri­ates the coun­try.

It also will lay the foun­da­tion for sus­tain­able re­forms that will out­live this ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Repub­li­cans pre­dicted a per­ma­nent GOP con­gres­sional ma­jor­ity after Ge­orge W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. It lasted two years un­til the 2006 mid-terms.

Like­wise, Demo­cratic wins in the House in 2006 made Nancy Pelosi the first woman to serve as speaker, and after Obama’s his­toric win in 2008, there were more pre­dic­tions of a per­ma­nent demo­cratic ma­jor­ity. That ma­jor­ity also lasted two years.

The na­tion is di­vided. Hil­lary Clin­ton won the pop­u­lar vote; Trump the elec­toral count. Repub­li­cans have a man­date for change, but not for par­ti­san gov­ern­ing that leaves half of Amer­ica on the side­lines. coun­try. But, I have never demon­strated in vi­o­lence or de­struc­tively to any other cit­i­zen who may not have shared my point of view.

We are a Con­sti­tu­tional Repub­lic, founded upon the rule of law which ap­plies to all peo­ple. Our free­doms rest in our God-granted in­alien­able rights to life, lib­erty and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness for all the peo­ple, not a cho­sen few.

Free­dom of speech and peace­ful demon­stra­tion is a right granted us by our rule of law. How­ever, when you in­fringe upon the rights and free­doms of oth­ers, you act out­side the lim­its so granted you by the law and be­come a vi­o­la­tor of that very law. You do not have rights as Amer­i­cans to cause dis­rup­tion to the sanc­tity of oth­ers, prop­erty dam­age, vi­o­lence or any ac­tion out­side the law and or­der of our Amer­i­can so­ci­ety.

Cry, weep or howl, but do it with re­spect to our Amer­i­can na­tion and its stan­dard.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.