Since I wrote The Silent Coup, about the plan to expand and isolate the power of the Presidency and the Executive Branch, I have had comments about the complacency of the Congress. Comments that have rightfully pointed out that the plan to realize the theory of the “unitary executive” would not have been as successful as it has been under the current administration’s eight years had there not been Senators and Representatives of this conviction, using their positions to shape legislation and the actions of Congress accordingly.
“EXECUTIVE POWER WOULD NOT BE SUCCESSFUL WITHOUT A DEAL BETWEEN THE POLITICAL ELITE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE. It was not a Cheney thing. It was a mutual agreement to 'tighten the knot' between the Clintonian Dems and GOP hawks. They ARE the new WAR Party.
By Mark Sashine “
“It's good to know what has happened, but how do we undo it when the democrats and are just as, or seemingly, even more responsible for handing all this power over to the executive?
I agree that there are Senators and Representatives who have and are facilitating the expansion of the power of the presidency and the Executive Branch, while correspondingly limiting the oversight and regulation by Congress.
However, I do not believe that it is necessary or likely, that every Senator or Representative that has signed an act, passively or actively has been part of an action – or failure to act – or decision that has resulted in yet another territorial gain for the unitary Executive Branch camp, to have intended this.
In this article I have expanded somewhat on the reasons why there seems to be so little Congressional challenge of the claims of presidential power. My hope is that by laying out some the problems and constraints of affecting society through the political system, people can better see how to maneuver to exercise their constitutional power over their government.
I conclude with some general suggestions that I hope will inspire thought and action.
Influencing the Individual Congress Member
It is a great fallacy to think that party affiliation, the intentions professed during campaigning, or both combined, will be the only things determining how a Senator or Representative will act when in office.
Unlike the Executive Branch, with the decision-making authority concentrated in one position, the Congress is a collective that needs to make decisions as one voice.
Just as was the intent of the Founding Fathers, the set up of the Congress has a moderating effect on individual members. Common ground is often sought because little can be achieved without extensive and, often bi-partisan, agreement. Something similar to the statistical law of averages applies, as uncommon views do not find enough support. Very quickly, initiatives that deviate from the “norm” must bend towards the middle to have any chance of surviving.
A factor that can enhance a particular initiative’s chances of surviving this “equalizer,” is public attention and pressure.
One would hope that it is popular support that gets someone elected and reelected, and many Congress members genuinely want to represent their constituency and the public accurately. It should be risky not to listen to what people want. That is the basis of the whole political system of representative democracy.
Congress candidates are not competing for election as individuals. They are typically also representatives of a party, and that creates another instance where they must bend their own interests towards a collective norm. For parties to win majority, they need to appear somewhat cohesive in what they offer voters. Parties typically do not want to risk loosing voters because of too much internal difference and disparity in political opinions.
Another factor is the influence of lobby groups and other representatives of group interests. Because of their ability to offer campaign funding, lucrative deals and beneficial connections, advocates for interests not representative of the interests of a Senator’s or Representative’s constituency can gain disproportional influence on the political decisions of a Congress member.