There will be no old rules in the new Republican dominated House and Senate. From now on, the institutions will be run to the benefit of the Republican party, not to the benefit of the United States. The aim is to make the Democrats permanently irrelevant, to create a one-party state along the lines of the old Soviet Union. Which just goes to show how all the extremists are really close to each other, whatever their soundbites might suggest. This is how Dennis Hastert plans to achieve this goal:
In scuttling major intelligence legislation that he, the president and most lawmakers supported, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert last week enunciated a policy in which Congress will pass bills only if most House Republicans back them, regardless of how many Democrats favor them.
Hastert's position, which is drawing fire from Democrats and some outside groups, is the latest step in a decade-long process of limiting Democrats' influence and running the House virtually as a one-party institution. Republicans earlier barred House Democrats from helping to draft major bills such as the 2003 Medicare revision and this year's intelligence package. Hastert (R-Ill.) now says such bills will reach the House floor, after negotiations with the Senate, only if "the majority of the majority" supports them.
Senators from both parties, leaders of the Sept. 11 commission and others have sharply criticized the policy. The long-debated intelligence bill would now be law, they say, if Hastert and his lieutenants had been humble enough to let a high-profile measure pass with most votes coming from the minority party.
That is what Democrats did in 1993, when most House Democrats opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Bill Clinton backed NAFTA, and leaders of the Democratic-controlled House allowed it to come to a vote. The trade pact passed because of heavy GOP support, with 102 Democrats voting for it and 156 voting against. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the House GOP leader at the time, declared: "This is a vote for history, larger than politics . . . larger than personal ego."
I'm not sure if NAFTA has been good for the country, but clearly we are not even going to argue about such questions in the future. If it's not good for the "majority of the majority" then it's off the table. The good thing about this is naturally that every future mistake (and there will be many) can be laid on the laps of the majority wingnuts. It's they, and they alone, who will be responsible for the coming theocracy and wild-West market economy, the eternal wars and the death of the environment. But this is not much of a consolation for the rest of us, unless we can think of a way to get off the planet.