When I was 18, I worked as a door-to-door canvasser for the reelection campaign of my state Senator. That summer, I had a lot of doors slammed in my face and a lot of angry words thrown at me as I mustered a smile and politely excused myself from the porches of outraged American voters. Their biggest grievance? "One politician can't change anything."
Years later, this sentiment still strikes a chord with the American people--both elected officials and their constituents. Recently, Illinois Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) erupted when Senate Bill 1673, a Democrat-led plan to overhaul state pensions, was presented without giving legislators what Bost considered adequate time to read it before accepting it. His biggest grievance? "[My people] send me here to vote for them... but I'm trapped"
Rep. Bost's tirade launches with "Again, total power in one person’s hands — NOT the American way,” includes a falcon punch to a physical copy of the bill, and even alludes to Exodus 9:1, "let my people go."
At first glance, one can interpret Rep. Bost's tirade as a complaint against partisanship. It is in fact, the opposite. Speaker of the House Mike Madigan tried to push Senate Bill 1673 with virtually no input from Republican members. Recall that the American Constitution invites partisanship of every form and that the Founders, particularly James Madison, intended for "ambition to counteract ambition." How can ambition counteract ambition when ambition hasn't even had time to read ambition's bill?
So my retroactive response to those voters that my 18-year-old self encountered is, no. One politician alone cannot possibly produce the legislation to meet the interests of his or her constituents. Our constitution doesn't allow for that. But one politician can and should have a fair opportunity to participate in the legislative process without unnecessary obstruction.
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