Congress Is Inept Because It Was Never Meant to Be the Primary Political Problem Solver

There is a strain of modern political thought that equates specialized knowledge and topical expertise with elitism, itself rooted in anti-populism. Such thinking contributes to high levels of political inefficacy as the operational premise of representational government is that legislators, who dedicate their time to informing themselves on issues that affect their constituents, will use their knowledge of both the issues and their constituencies to make political choices calculated to promote the interests of residents…

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The Shutdown Highlights Oligarchic Attitudes in Government

There is perhaps nothing so indicative of an increasingly oligarchic trend in government as language from politicians signaling their actions are oriented around what is most convenient to others of their ranks. By way of example, a recent story in Roll Call detailed how, in the waning hours before the government shutdown took effect, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) attempted to broker a three-week stop-gap spending measure. Though one might hope his motivation was some respect…

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Re-establishing federalism starts with divorcing national politics from elections

If one believes that many of the shortcomings of today’s politics can ultimately be traced to the abandonment of federalist principles—as tends to typify certain strains of right-wing thought—then the trend in national elections, which primarily subjects candidates running for federal office to scrutiny by other elected officials rather than to the judgment of their constituents, should be an alarming one. It is perhaps telling that while many descry the influence of outside actors, particularly…

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Equal Protection of Rights Needs to Ground Tax Policy Debate

The necessity for citizens to be equal before the law is a concept most often emphasized within the framework of the criminal justice system: Americans clamor, and rightly so, with particular vigor for the ability of each individual to receive a fair and impartial trial, to be judged by the same standard as all others accused of a similar crime. This demand for parity, however, is often absent from debates surrounding the merits of various…

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Presidential Deal-Brokering Threatens Rule of Law

The president has no legislative power. This is confirmed not only by the lack of language in Article II of the Constitution granting the president authority to issue laws, even in times when they may be exigently needed, but also in the rather explicit clause of Article I, Section 1, which states that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and…

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No, Federal Funding for Disaster Relief Is Not Antithetical to Conservatism

For the vast majority of the country, Hurricane Harvey, though a tragedy, also served as a reminder that political divisiveness is superficial. The outpouring of support from Americans even in areas far from the path of the storm demonstrated that rugged individualism is still a central animating tenet of civic life.  Love of one’s own life and liberty demands respect of the same capacity in another. This attitude promotes a sense of duty, to help…

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Division Within Congress Is Necessary

By dint of that air of moral supremacy carried by the members of a majority in a nation that gives over ultimate power to the judgment of the people, the pinnacle of modern American political virtue is bipartisan collaboration. In uniting to serve “the common good” — an ill-defined term, the imprecision of which is compounded by questions of how the polity is constructed at a national level — politicians evoke that spirit of communitarian…

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