Letters To The Editor 12/23/2018
Press for reform
Editor: Are there crooked politicians? Of course. Every group contains some people who try to take advantage of the system.
Let’s focus on Harrisburg, because in early January the state House of Representatives will vote on procedural rules for the next two years; it will be the first thing legislators vote on in the new session. We should care because rules in the past were undemocratic by giving party leaders excessive power.
■ The chairman of a committee has the power to kill a bill even if the panel’s majority favors it and wants the House to debate and vote on it.
■ Even if a bill favorably leaves committee, just one leader can shut down a vote
■ Often, bills are used as bargaining chips in the last days of a session, so rules must be put in place to have bills move quickly through debate and to a floor vote.
Also, reforms must be made to the number of committees, their schedules and
chairman selections. Since committee chairmen often refuse to moderate fairly, there should be mechanisms in place for removal by its members.
Therefore, if you want to eliminate the crooked system in Harrisburg, please call your representative and make your feelings known. If enough people get involved, the House will once again become the “people’s house,” instead of the party leaders’ house. Since there is strength in numbers, reform-oriented citizens should consider joining local nonpartisan organizations such as Clean Money Squad PA or Fair Districts PA.
Editor: The stage was set Dec. 11 in the Oval Office with cameras rolling.
President Trump wanted the world to see how he would deal with Democratic House and Senate leaders following the midterm elections. Did he think they would succumb to his fixation on the monumental proposed wall on our southern border that would keep ”bad” people from crossing into our country? Needless to say, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Charles Schumer were not persuaded to support a barrier that would be a monument to xenophobia.
Thanks to the midterm results, with a gain of at least 41 seats for Democrats in the House, Congress will revert to its true mission of providing checks and balances to the executive and judicial branches of government. The damage done to our nation, its reputation and its values is profound — the scandals, the lack of candor, truth and logical thinking, the disrespect for the rule of law and the art and science of politics has brought us to a low point. It’s time to go high.
Politics is the lingua franca of our democracy. Only in autocracies do leaders act according to their will. The conversation in the Oval Office on Dec. 11 heralded the return to the rule of law. Though some people toss politics aside, think of the alternative. It is a perilous departure from government of, for and by the people. Our founders created a system with checks and balances so that the rule of law would prevail and not the ideas of an unfettered, deliberately ignorant autocrat.
We mustn’t be naïvely confident. But we can breathe a sigh of relief to have politics back in the picture. We discuss, we disagree, we argue, but in the end we compromise and we preserve our democracy. Happy new year.
Arc bends downward
Editor: Former Pennsylvania Gov. William W. Scranton would have great difficulty coping with what’s occurring in Washington.
He believed in the integrity and importance of public service. An elegant and thoughtful person, he served in President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s State Department. He was elected to Congress in 1960 when John F. Kennedy carried Pennsylvania and won the presidency.
The last Associated Press story I wrote was about how Eisenhower and other Republican leaders persuaded Scranton to run for governor in 1962. He won and though the state constitution then limited governors to one term, he accomplished a lot. Not least among his achievements was his ability to work across party lines and get things done without partisan rancor and rigidity.
Near his term’s end national reporters wrote about a possible Scranton 1964 presidential bid. He entered late and Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, then called “Mr. Conservative,” won the GOP nomination and lost to President Lyndon B. Johnson in November.
On the afternoon of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Scranton invited reporters in Harrisburg to join him and his staff at a hastily arranged and moving church memorial service near the state Capitol.
In view of current events, I also think about what Goldwater would think of today’s Republican leadership. He was livid about how President Richard M. Nixon lied to him and other GOP leaders.