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America has gone from government of laws to semi-political banana republic

 

The rule of law has been replaced in Washington by "yes we can." The events we witnessed Thursday in the Senate, that is Majority Leader Harry Reid's success at invoking the so-called 'nuclear option,' stripping the minority party of its primary power to block nominations, have become a stunning capstone to what has been already a steady erosion of a government of laws down to a sort of semi-political banana republic.

We are now living in a republic in which politicians do what they want without regard to tradition or the best interests of our country.

The rule of more than 200 years since the Senate was formed, as described by James Madison, to be "...the saucer of the hot cup of the House" has been overthrown.  

We are now living in a republic in which politicians do what they want without regard to tradition or the best interests of our country.

The role of the Senate is to be a deliberative body. The rule of filibuster was overthrown Thursday by a change in the rules. It's a change which could never have even been conceived of before in our history, even in those periods when we've had total one party rule.

However, let me state for the record that when the Republicans tried the "nuclear option" I was as outraged then as I am now.

It was as wrong then as it was today in Washington.

It's depressing to see the people who put their party registration ahead of their responsibilities as American leaders.

Then, Democrats where screaming like stuck pigs. Yet many of those same representatives supported the nuclear option Thursday.

But this is not a short term, temporary political matter. This is not just about the upsetting of short term political rules. It's much bigger and should be upsettting to any America who puts their country ahead of their party.

For some time now we have been living in a period where a government operating on this slippery slope has been evident.

Consider in recent months, the reports, which are yet unproven but appear look serious about the possible tampering with official unemployment numbers.

In the past, even when the unemployment numbers have been gathered -- and not always without error -- the mere thought and the appearance that they were not published in good faith or tainted by politics never entered into the discussion.

The process of picking the numbers is sacrosanct. The possibility that politics influenced official employment figures strikes at the very core credibility of government. It means that government is now being turned into a mere servant of politics.

This is most troubling because for the first time we cannot dismiss the possibility of this out of hand. Such an issue, even the suspicion, goes to the very core of the credibility in the people's government.

The most recent and jarring example is the Affordable Care Act where the president has, despite the actual language of the law, assumed powers to exempt people, to change the meaning of the law. Of actual legislative statue.

In a way that is stunning.  Indeed, the most egregious was the Democratic and Republican leaders coming together to agree to ignore the language in the Affordable Care Act legislation  and grant themselves and their staffs a special subsidy. Sadly, this is something very few people have bothered to speak out against.

The slippery slide into semi-banana republicanism was not just a problem with President Obama.  

You could see this disturbing trend emerge in the presidency of George W. Bush.  And it has only accelerated from there.

For example, President Bush's claim, on signing statements, that he had the right to not enforce some of the things that were included in the law. That he believed he could designate parts of the law he had just signed as something he was not required to enforce.

Barack Obama campaigned against this in 2008 but since ascending to the presidency he has only expanded the process.

President Bush in his administration claimed "presidential prerogatives" that were never heretofore known in the areas of national security and in war powers.

It was a Republican administration and a Republican Congress that passed the Medicare Part D provision by illegally holding the vote in the House open for four and a half hours while the White House threatened and wheedled members of Congress into voting for it.

And of course it was a Republican-led Senate, supported by a Republican president that first threatened to invoke the nuclear option until responsible Republican senators were willing to act for constitutional government, and protectionary institutions and for the nation's greater good, over a short-term partisan agenda.

Thursday, only three Democrats were willing to put the institution before this effort
to achieve a short-term political goal.

That, my friends, this is the very definition of a slippery slope.

Surprisingly the outrage from the Republicans has been somewhat muted to say the least.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has complained that this event today was merely to distract attention from ObamaCare.

Really?

I have had conversations today with at least two conservatives who have said, "so what? It will work for us next time, as soon as we take the Senate back." And I doubt that those sentiments that were expressed are unique only to me.

What is missing, the dog that is not barking here, is that the Senate Republicans have not been willing to bring the body to a screaming halt to stop this institutional crime against a government of rules. And they could.

First of all, the Senate, by it's own rules, has a specific way of operating. There are many, many things, mundane things every day that occur only by "unanimous consent." The dissent of one senator can often delay the workings of the Senate.

Imagine what would happen if 45 or 48 Senators decide that they will agree to nothing in the face of this.

But they don't.

Imagine if every bill and every proposal in front of the Senate were filibustered on principle and that it required an effort to constitutionally over it?

Is not preserving representative government important enough?

Should not this effort, this coup d'├ętat not be greeted with an attitude of "wait till we get there" but with a genuine outrage of men and women of principle?

We are in grave danger.

Tuesday we honored the 150th anniversary of government of the people, by the people and for the people when we remembered Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Now, just two days later, we are reminded just how grave the danger to that concept exists by members of a political class and their apologists in the maninstream media who will put political interests before the good of the United States of America.  

What is astounding is the large degree and matter of fact complacency about this institutional act of coup de etat.

American self-government is under threat. And the American people no doubt know it. And something must happen.

This is why an undeclared war now exists between the mainstream of American and the established political class of both parties.

I feel, without question, that there will soon be open warfare between the great vast majority of the American people and this self-perpetuating and self-aggrandizing ruling class that is willing to put their ambitions and power above a government of the American people.

Patrick Caddell is a Democratic pollster and Fox News contributor. He served as pollster for  President Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Joe Biden and others. He is a Fox News political analyst and co-host of "Political Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on "FoxNews.com Live."