For over two centuries, Social Studies teachers have drawn an equilateral triangle as the visual metaphor for the three branches of government, as ascribed by the Constitution of the United States. Three equal sides with three equal angles, symbolizing balance, symmetry and equality. At one corner, the Executive Branch, another the Legislative, and the third, the Judicial, each sharing equal power for lawful checks and balances.
In today's schools, Social Studies teachers (if there still are Social Studies teachers), instructing on the same three branches of government, would be more accurate by drawing a scalene triangle instead. Three disproportionate sides with three disproportionate angles, symbolizing disparate symmetry, imbalance and inequality. Such is the Constitutionally challenged government of George W. Bush, characterized by a megalomaniacal Executive, a codependent Legislature, and a crony-based Judiciary.
Upon closer analysis, codependency doesn't come anywhere close to describing the self-destructive behavior of the Legislative Branch.
The cronyism of the Judiciary is also simple to explain. One should presume Presidents will only choose cronies. A polar opposite is certainly not a choice. Of course, in a legitimate government not dominated by one party rule, a crony may ultimately be denied. But that's not probable today.
But who can explain a self-flagellating Legislature? Who can comprehend a body that b*tch-slaps itself? Who understands why the Legislative Branch grants greater control to the Executive Branch, when by law, it shares equal authority? What is the logic of an organization that relinquishes its own command, laying it at the feet of the Executive like some sacrosanct offering, knowing full well that its submission tilts the balance of power the Constitution has enshrined?
absolutism destroys the very underpinning of our Democracy. The Republican majority of the Senate and the House have done exactly that, to the detriment of the nation, and the world. And sadly, they've been followed begrudgingly, sometimes compliantly, by some shameful Democratic wimps; most notably, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.
There is a hypothesis that helps define the odd behavior of Congress. It helps to explain why the Republican Legislature surrenders so readily to George W. Bush. It is the theory of the 'stern father' as described by Berkeley Linguistics Professor, George Lakoff, who contends that neocons and Conservatives embrace the concept of a strict patriarchal role.
As Lakoff writes in his book, "Don't Think of an Elephant": "as far as I have been able to discern, neocons believe in the unbridled use of power (including state power) to extend the reign of strict father values and ideas into every domain, domestic and international...... On the whole the right wing is attempting to impose a strict father ideology on America and, ultimately, the rest of the world."
Lakoff goes on to say, "Strict father morality defines what a good society is. The good society is threatened by liberal and progressive ideas and programs. That threat must be fought at all costs. The very fabric of society is at stake."
Perhaps this need for a strict father helps explain why the United States Senate is complicit in loading the Supreme Court with Executive Branch devotees who will usurp the power of their own Legislative Branch. Perhaps the whole 'whose your daddy?' concept goes right to the heart of how the adult men and women in the Senate and House cravenly relinquish authority to Mr. Bush whenever he gives them a squint and a swagger. Maybe visions of belt buckles and tool sheds dance in their wee little heads.
Lakoff's hypothesis does make sense when one considers the principal accepted characteristic of a stern father: absolute authority, uncontested and rightfully ordained.
For the past eight years George Bush has wagged his autocratic finger at Congress members, publicly proclaiming his expectations of them. He frequently begins with, "I expect the Congress to........" and concludes with his decree. Rarely have his commandments been refuted or ignored. Such blatant capitulation would embarrass Progressives, being the free thinkers they are, but it plants smiles on the faces of Conservatives. They're good sons and daughters. Well behaved. Able to follow directions, absent inquiry, curiosity, or the flaw of independent thought. The
unfortunate result of their paternal pandering is the increasing imbalance between the Executive and Legislative branches, which grows stronger and more pernicious every day.
And now, in a tour de force act of compliance, the Senate will enable the further subversion of the Judicial Branch as well. Its already welcomed Chief Justice crony John Roberts. Now it's intent on welcoming crony Associate Justice Samuel Alito, whose pronounced endorsement of a Unitary Executive reveals he believes in 'a strict father', too.
As stated often in his Senate confirmation hearing, Italian American Samuel Alito, Jr. worshipped his own father. He learned his moral authority from his father and says he retains that moral authority today. I share a personal knowledge of Italian fathers. If Samuel Alito, Sr. was a typical Italian father, he embodied the strict paternal role. A role that Samuel Alito, Jr. clearly embraces. If chosen to serve on the Supreme Court, Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. will likely never challenge Presidential authority.
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