Posts Tagged ‘Evan Bayh’

Can the center hold? Can America be governed?

February 21, 2010

Sunday, time for poetry. From Irish poet William Butler Yeats(1865-1939)


…Things fall apart; the
centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed

upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide
is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of
innocence is drowned;

The best lack all
conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate

We’ve written here about the destructive effect of gerrymandering in California, where every legislative seat is safe for the incumbent party: challenge can only come from within the incumbent’s own party. What’s true in California is true for the nation. The respected Cook Political Report sets the number of competitive seats at 50 out of a total of 435. The other 385 members are immune from an attack from the opposite party. Republicans need only appeal to the extreme right to get another term, while Democrats need only appeal to the extreme left.

As a result, “the people’s business is not being done,” to quote retiring Senator Evan Bayh. Our representatives in Washington are failing us, not only politically, but ethically as well. They promised to carry out the people’s business, but they are choosing to look first to their own job security. Non-partisan redrawing of district boundaries, as in Iowa and as proposed for California, would solve the problem, but that’s a long way off.

But in the meantime was Yeats right? Can the center hold? Not as long as the best lack all conviction. If you’re in the center you need a large dose of passionate intensity. And so do our centrist politicians—especially those in “safe” seats. And our President.

Gridlock in DC? Evan Bayh says yes; Ron Paul and Bill Maher say no

February 17, 2010

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) shocked the political world Monday by announcing that he is stepping down rather than serve a third term in the Senate, even though he would be practically certain of reelection. Bayh said that while he loved his quarter century of public service he didn’t love the Senate—not any longer.

“Congress is not operating as it should. There is too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples’ business is not being done.”

Bayh told the truth, I thought. Who could disagree when even a Republican plan for a bipartisan commission to deal with our alarming deficits was scuttled by seven of its Republican sponsors just as soon as President Obama announced his support. Maybe Bayh’s action would spark some change.

Not so fast. In separate interviews with Anderson Cooper Tuesday, both Congressman-Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX), darling of the conservative right, and television host-social critic-political commentator Bill Maher, darling of the progressive left, disagreed.

They both told Cooper that the problem with Washington, and with American government, was too much compromise, not too little. That what America needs is more principled progressives/conservatives (take your pick) like them to prevent the conservatives/progressives (take your pick) from continuing to lead America down the path to destruction.

As long as people follow “principled” thought leaders like Paul and Maher Bayh’s gloomy analysis will stand: the people’s business will not be done. Ethics calls for people to do the work they’re hired to do, for our legislators to do the people’s business. They’re failing colossally.

Read The Ethics Challenge: Strengthening Your Integrity in a Greedy World