To Be a Senator

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Filed Under Latest News on Sep 30 

When you are a fraction of a rounding error in the polls and your campaign is grinding to a halt, you can always take swipes at a fellow senator. And even better a GOP colleague; one who is conservative. Just like you are. So Rand Paul has decided to mark Ted Cruz as walking dead in the halls of the Senate, due to his lack of respect for the “decorum” and the rules of the Senate. If he had just played nice, he might have gotten a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. A vote, not anything else. A symbolic moment of sober second thought. But you have to be polite when you’re barely past a rookie and you’re a conservative from Texas.

Is voter anger really anger at the very shape of representative government? Or does it build and fade depending on where your senator is on any given issue you care about? Or does the cost of winning elections mean fundraising outweighs policy and values? Or maybe this is not about money. The Senate’s rules are in fact a warlock’s maze of standing rules, precedents based on rulings and votes, established and customary practices, and ad hoc arrangements. As their own government website warns, “A knowledge of the Senate’s formal rules is not sufficient to understand Senate procedure, and Senate practices cannot be understood without knowing the rules to which the practices relate.” Kafka could not have written it better. But to simplify: We do whatever the heck we want. As the Constitution says ” each house may determine the rules of its proceedings”.

This maze may not be a logical problem for someone with a mind like Ted Cruz, but it does seem he is facing a political problem. Does he stand his ground and remain excluded from proceedings to an increasing extent? To perhaps be vindicated when voters sweep the Senate clean? Oh, that’s right: it’s impossible for voters to do that. Or does he begin to join the club and achieve little change, but less slings and arrows? To be a senator. That is the question.

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