The Washington Post published a review of Senate voting records at the end of the 110th Congress, which ended in January. Over the previous two years, Congress had taken up important votes on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, approved billions of dollars of spending and wrestled with many other controversial and difficult issues. On average, Democrats voted with their party 87.5% of the time, and Republicans voted the GOP line 80.7% of the time; 44 senators voted with their party more than 90% of the time, 24 of them more than 95% of the time. So-called maverick John McCain voted with other Republicans more than 88% of the time…
James Madison and George Washington feared the advance of political parties. Of course factions would be formed; people of like interests would band together in coalitions. But those coalitions would shift as issues shifted. In a system designed to leave the people in charge of their own government, their representatives would assess issues and vote according to their best judgment of a proposal’s merits.
Loyalty to party undermines the very essence of representative government, which depends on entrusting members of one’s community to act in one’s stead as an evaluator of legislative policy.
What author Peter Shane labeled “Madison’s Nightmare” has come true: We live in a world of constant partisan warfare, a never-ending battle between “my club” and “your club,” undermining the belief that a citizen’s vote truly counts for something.
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