So, about the House....

So, about the House of Representatives.... As you've read by now, the contest for Speaker is once again a free-for-all. Factions and sub-factions have entrenched yet deeper, and compromise has once more been the victim. And the sad thing is that it never had to be this way. The Speaker of the House, as established in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, need not be of the majority party, nor even a member of Congress. It can be, quite literally, anyone. And there's a reason for this. See, the job of the Speaker is not to legislate. I'll say that again: the job of the Speaker is not to legislate. Rather, the job of the Speaker is to facilitate and enable the House as a whole to legislate. It is the duty of the Speaker to ensure that the House can and does function, that legislation proceeds in an orderly fashion to and from committee assignments, that discussion and debate is both fair and thorough, and that bills that are ready for a floor vote receive that vote. But that isn't how it has happened. Indeed, from the very beginning, the office has been subverted for the political gain of the majority party. Henry Clay, Thomas Brackett Reed, Joseph Gurney Cannon, Champ Clark, Sam Rayburn, Tip O'Neill, Newt Gingrich... right up to and including Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner; they have all used the Speaker's gavel as a bludgeon. They have, one and all, treated the House as their personal fiefdom, and have ensured that legislation was most surely *not* facilitated unless it met their political ends. Now, we reap the final rewards of this misappropriation of authority. We have a House of Representatives that is, for all intents and purposes, not merely dysfunctional but in free-fall. Even within the majority party, nobody wants to let that gavel, that mighty truncheon, find its way into the hands of someone who is of even a marginally different political footing than themselves. It is time for this to end. And it *can* end, by going back to the original purpose of the office. There's really only one way to do that, and that is for the House to do something it has never done in its 227 years: elect as Speaker someone from outside of the House. It is time for a fractured and beleaguered body to take this, the last option remaining to it should it wish to return to respectability and responsibility, and to do so without the trappings of either major party. The House can and should elect as the next Speaker -- and as every Speaker from here forward -- an outsider, an independent who can and will refrain from using the position for political gain, who will see that all legislation that emerges from the requisite committees is given a fair hearing upon the floor, who will refuse to allow the process to be held hostage by extreme factions of either party, and thus return the Speakership to the people of the United States of America.


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