Joseph Sabino Mistick: Midterms put us back on track
“If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary,” according to James Madison. But, since angels seem to have little to do with our politics, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”
Because of this, the Founders gave us a system of “checks and balances,” which is the only way government can “control itself.” And, last week’s election, in which the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, should help everyone breathe easier, regardless of their politics.
The excesses of unbridled power threaten our Republic. One-party control has only happened five times since 1980, and it has never lasted long, thankfully. With our need to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, everyone must have at least one seat at the table.
After last Tuesday, those things that should be questioned will be questioned. Cabinet officers and administrators will be required to justify their policies. And bureaucrats will be held accountable to the people, as they should be, and not just to a particular politician, party or administration.
There will be talk of impeachment of Donald Trump, but that should not be a goal for Democrats. Now that they are back, they should resist that temptation. The Mueller investigation is the proper place to examine alleged misdeeds, and that should take its course.
Instead, Democrats should use their power to address those issues that matter most to their base, the same issues that returned them to power in the House. The voters knew what they were doing.
The Democrats’ vow to protect the Affordable Care Act turned out to be a winner. The Republican policy that would abandon millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, just because that protection was part of something called “Obamacare,” makes no sense to the voters of either party.
And, Republican promises to provide “even better” health coverage for all Americans, only after “Obamacare” is dismantled, is not fooling anyone.
Democrats will score big with voters on environmental issues. The role of carbon emissions on our climate may still seem remote to many Americans, but everyone cares about job safety and the health of our children. The environment is a family-values issue.
A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that the Trump administration’s dismantling of environmental regulations will result in an additional 80,000 deaths per decade. Democrats can stop or slow these changes, now that they have a seat at the table.
And, as much as anything, the return of Democrats to control of “the People’s House” is a rejection of the politics of belligerence, bad-mouthing and bombast. Those Democrats who did best listened to the voters and focused on their local concerns, a simple antidote for troubled times.
James Madison feared the partisanship of political parties more than anything. And he knew that human nature would lead some politicians to seek complete power, eliminating all dissent, and causing the great American experiment to fall apart.
But, once again, the voters saved us. The American people took what was becoming a disaster for our two-party system of government and forced us back on track.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.