If Democrats can't do job, step aside for Republicans

January 08, 1995|By ROGER SIMON

I became a Democrat when I was 6 years old.

I was riding the school bus to the first grade when I heard some kids take up the chant:

Eisenhower in the White House, waiting to be elected;

Stevenson in the garbage can, waiting to be collected.

When my father got home that evening, I asked him about it.

And he explained to me that the kids were wrong and that we were Democrats and we always voted for Democrats over Republicans.

I asked him what the difference was.

"Democrats are for the working people, the ordinary people," he said. "People like us."

What about Republicans? I asked.

"Republicans," my father said, "eat babies."

In the sixth grade, I campaigned for John F. Kennedy. In the eighth grade, when my science teacher made a crack about Harry Truman, I wrote an essay in his defense and the teacher apologized.

And while I have voted for a Republican or two in my lifetime, I have remained largely loyal to the party of my father.

So why was I so delighted by the first day of the Republican Congress last week? Why did I have such a sense of exhilaration as I watched the debate in the House of Representatives?

First, because the Republicans were actually doing something.

Second, because what they were doing, with a couple of exceptions, seemed OK to me.

And, third, they did it quickly and without the usual political nonsense we have all become so sick of.

You know what the high point of opening day in the House was for me?

When one member was granted seven seconds to make his remarks.

Seven seconds!

And when he hit seven seconds and started to go over, the speaker pro tem roared: "The gentleman's time has expired!"

And the guy had to shut up.

I loved that. I hope we see a lot more of it.

I believe in debate. And I believe that not every issue can be decided in seven seconds or seven minutes or even seven days.

But an awful lot of issues can. Especially since so few members of Congress bother to listen to debate.

PTC I hope C-SPAN gets control of the cameras in Congress in the future. If it does, America will be able to see how little actual listening goes on in the "World's Greatest Deliberative Body."

Now, most members speak to provide sound-bites for their local news back home. They don't care what anybody else says. The deals have already been cut before they come to the floor.

So why do we need debate that goes on and on?

I disagree with Newt Gingrich on many important and fundamental issues, but I wanted to hug him when he announced that, in the future, members would be given 15 minutes to vote and no more.

This will not harm the democratic process. If a person can't push a button in 15 minutes, he should be in therapy, not the House of Representatives.

The Democrats, I regret to say, seemed pathetic on opening day.

They seemed especially so when they tried to point out how hypocritical the Republicans were being by calling for reform and then blocking a Democratic attempt to ban gifts from lobbyists.

The Republicans are hypocrites? The Democrats were in charge of the House for 40 years and didn't ban such gifts.

The Democrats yawped on and on about how the Republicans were operating under "closed" rules. But that did not mean the Republicans were operating in secret. It merely meant that the bills being voted on couldn't be amended.

And what's wrong with that? What's wrong with voting a matter up or down without amending it to death?

Besides, the Democrats didn't have the votes to amend anything. They merely wanted to delay.

And this is where they continue to go wrong.

People are sick of delay. Even lifelong Democrats like me are sick of it.

I don't believe in the dictum "don't just stand there, do something" when it comes to making laws.

But I do believe that Congress has stood around and sat around without doing anything for long enough.

And if real reform can be accomplished, I don't care who gets credit for it. Even the Republicans.

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