A traffic jam affecting a whole network of intersecting streets.
A situation when there is difficulty passing laws that satisfy the needs of the people.
When the ratio between bills passed and the agenda of the legislature decreases.
A common perception is that Congressional gridlock must be inherently bad. Congress is not getting things done. They are not doing their job. Bills are not being passed.
Let’s get a few things out in the open at the onset:
When someone complains about Congressional gridlock it means they are not getting their way.
Gridlock – by definition – takes two parties to occur. Gridlock occurs because two parties cannot agree.
Our Constitution was specifically designed to provide for gridlock.
There seven basic principles of the Constitution:
- Popular Sovereignty – the government’s right to rule comes from the people
- Limited Government – the government has only the powers the Constitution gives to it
- Separation of Powers – the Constitution divides the government into three branches: Legislative, Executive and Judicial
- Checks and Balances – each branch of government has the power to check or limit the actions of the other two
- Federalism – division of power between the federal government and the states
- Republicanism – citizens elect representatives to carry out their will
- Individual Rights – the Constitution protects individual rights
Cato Institute’s Marcus Ethridge summed up the seven principles neatly:
“the public interest is most secure when governmental institutions are inefficient decision-makers”
When the law-making process is slowed it accomplishes two very important things:
- It reduces the benefits to special interests
(also known as rent-seeking – the use of the resources to obtain economic gain from others without reciprocating any benefits to society through wealth creation)
- It prevents the adoption of poorly considered proposals or legislation
Let me place all this in more basic terms:
Why would anyone want Congress to be more productive? The House of Representatives has 128 lawyers and 55 career politicians out of 435 seats. The Senate has 45 lawyers and 9 career politicians out of 100 seats. My trust of either group is pretty much zero (my apologies to any lawyers reading this – no apologies to any career politicians).
I have always believed that I am far more capable (as are you) of making decisions for myself than any trial lawyer turned Congressman – especially one who is under assault from lobbyists and special interest groups.
The slowing of the legislative process helps to remove the influence of Special Interests precisely because they cannot obtain quick results to suit their needs.
Here’s another way to view the situation.
Run a Google search with the question “how many federal laws are there”. The answer is that no one actually knows – because the number is so staggeringly high.
What I can tell you is that there are over 20,000 laws just on the use and ownership of guns (for the record while I support the 2nd Amendment I do not own a gun).
To quickly sum up – Gridlock is good. It is the very mechanism designed by our Founding Fathers and placed into the Constitution to protect our rights and interests.
Don’t let a politician tell you otherwise – because if they are complaining it’s simply because they are not getting their way…
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