The media has an amazing ability to fall for right wing talking points time after time again. Sadly, all too often myriad people buy into them – including progressives. “We just want an up or down vote,” President Bush would say. Never mind the fact that parliamentary procedures are there for a reason. Never mind the fact that laws aren’t supposed to be easy to pass (and Constitutional Amendments damn near impossible). Rhetorical prose makes right, especially when the right – wing, that is – is behind it. I’m sure James Dobson would be proud.
Isn’t it amazing how rhetoric influences policy? Get a simple, catchy slogan or chant – “let the people vote” – and suddenly the most heinous and vicious policies seemingly deserve the time of day. No, ladies and gentlemen, they don’t. To avoid horrible policies is exactly why parliamentary procedures exist. If they didn’t exist, just imagine what terrifying propositions would have reached the ballots of the uneducated voter? Just imagine what nightmarish policies would have left state-house committees?
Alexis de Toqueville wrote a poignant book in the early 19th century – it was called “Democracy in America.” In the book, de Toqueville coined a phrase that almost everyone has heard of at some point or another: “the tyranny of the majority.” Ironically, Alexis de Toqueville didn’t perceive it as a huge threat – just something to be ever vigilant about. Perhaps parliamentary procedure has something to do with it? Otherwise, just look at who could be locked up for being of color, gay or “unAmerican” if bills were easy to pass. So when the next pundit, Globe story, BMG diarest or rabid right winger spouts on about how the legislature should vote, tell them it already did – and the stupid bill died the same horrible death that tens of thousands of other stupid bills have before it. Amen.