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Harry Reid's dictatorship of bad ideas

ALG Editor's Note: In the following featured commentary by ALG's own Bill Wilson, it is noted that minority Republicans in the Senate have been steamrolled, not allowed to offer any amendments for months by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Since this piece was written, there have been, because of Senate Republican objections, a trickle of amendments allowed:

By BILL WILSON
SPECIAL TO THE REVIEW-JOURNAL

Last September, Louisiana's David Vitter strode to the podium of the U.S. Senate to offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009.

What's so significant about that?

Amazingly, it marks the last time that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid permitted a Republican amendment to be voted on -- a period of 125 days that can only be described as a diabolical, dictatorial suppression of democracy in what we still like to pretend is the world's greatest deliberative body.

If open, honest debate and a full, fair discussion of divergent ideas are prerequisites to representative democracy, then the unavoidable reality imposed upon us by "Dear Leader" Reid's heavy-handed tactics is this: the United States of America is no longer a representative democracy.

Of course, as depressing a reality as this is -- are we really surprised?

After all, Reid and the vast majority of Washington politicians in both parties have been steadily eroding the democratic ideals this nation was founded on for years now. They've been telling hard-working Americans of all income levels that they must pay higher taxes and fees on everything under the sun -- crippling their ability to survive in a land of dried up opportunities, a land where political correctness trumps founding wisdom and individual liberties are granted or withheld almost exclusively at the whim of the state.

Most recently, these Washington "leaders" essentially gave up on our free market economic system to the tune of at least $8 trillion in socialist-style government interventionism -- all within the past four months.

No wonder these hyenas are now circling in the Senate, hoping to finish off another one of our nation's founding ideals. And what's to stop them?

After all, nobody's storming the capital in outrage despite the fact that the U.S. Congress currently has an unheard of 9 percent -- that's 9 percent! -- approval rating.

You see, the best way to silence the 91 percent of people who don't approve of what's going on in Washington right now is to simply silence any of their representatives who dare to dissent.

Which is precisely what Reid is doing, while at the same time ramming through billions of dollars in wasteful spending, including the new "economic stimulus bill," featuring such "must-have" items as $2.4 billion for "carbon capture demonstrating technologies," $1.5 billion for "good jobs in biomedical research," and $600 million divvied up among government officials to help them buy brand spanking-new energy-efficient cars.

But such is Reid's governing philosophy -- which he is certainly entitled to. Except he's imposing that philosophy on the Senate by eliminating legitimate debate on issues -- and using behind-the-scenes procedural moves to do so.

Make no mistake, if you think that the bad decisions this Congress has made in full public view over the past few months have had disastrous consequences for America, just wait till you see what they're capable of when the doors are closed to any real discussion.

Astoundingly, Republican "leaders" are not only sitting back and letting this happen, they're empowering Reid's dictatorship.

Sadly, Sen. Mitch McConnell decided it was necessary to criticize one of the few U.S. senators who is actually doing his job and standing up for the taxpayers: Oklahoma's Tom Coburn.

While Coburn was attempting to amend a pork-laden land bill that included $3.5 million for a birthday party in St. Augustine, Fla., McConnell felt it was more important to demonstrate his misguided bipartisanship by helping Reid gather Republican votes to shoot down Coburn's efforts.

"This isn't the greatest deliberative body in the world, this is the greatest choke-hold body in the world," Coburn said on the Senate floor recently.

He's right. But fortunately, Reid's tactics are finally beginning to rub some senators the wrong way.

"Coburn may not win this one, but I think there is an increasing unease that the traditions of the Senate are eroding, that bills are being railroaded through and no amendments are being allowed," said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Hopefully at some point enough senators will join Coburn in standing up for their republic, for a change, not kissing the ring of a dictatorial tyrant.

Bill Wilson is president of Americans for Limited Government.


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