People who can’t stand either presidential candidate often insist that voting for president is important for one main reason: Our next president will appoint our next Supreme Court justices. In other words, we must depend on the election’s winner to either uphold or reverse the political agenda advanced by the last administration. While I agree that we should care about both the election’s outcome and the Supreme Court’s future, I am concerned we are giving the politics of our next president too much weight. Instead of focusing exclusively who will be nominating our new justices, Americans should worry about the Congress who will confirm them.
Make Congress Great Again
Inch by inch, Congress has abdicated its role in American government. It has unlawfully delegated its lawmaking authority to unaccountable bureaucratic agencies. It has refused to stand in the way of a president who largely rules by executive order. It has submitted to a judicial system that creates law as much as it interprets it. The formidable powers of the legislative branch mean little if Congress lacks the backbone to rein in a wayward government. To make America great again, we must first make Congress great again.
There are three basic steps to restoring Congress: Our citizens must learn what the government should do, pick the people who want to do it, and support them when they try.
- We begin by taking the initiative to educate ourselves and others about how our government should properly function. The U.S. Constitution devotes its first and longest article to designing Congress, but few people have any inkling of its proper sphere, let alone the roles of the other branches. We can’t restore a plan that we don’t understand.
- Next, we identify and elect state and federal legislators who promise to reduce the size of the government. Then we take notes while they are in office, so that we can actually hold them accountable at the next election if and when they abrogate their campaign promises.
- Finally, when principled legislators try to curtail the federal government through, for example, another government shutdown, we support their efforts to impede unconstitutional government policies instead of complaining about an obstructive Congress.
The Next President Can’t Fix America
Neither President Clinton nor President Trump can fix America. To be honest, President Cruz or President Sanders couldn’t fix this mess either. The executive branch can’t effectively address the problem, because any unilateral decisions made by the current president can be undone by the next one.
The blessing and curse of Congress is that legislative decisions are much more difficult to reverse. By nature of the number of people involved, the legislature must move ponderously along any course of action. What is difficult to do is difficult to undo. Think of the protracted struggle to enact Obamacare…and the feeble attempts to repeal it.
It is equally difficult to overrule Congress’s poor decisions as their good ones, of course. This simply reflects the magnitude of the task faced by the American people. It also means that the sooner we start, the sooner we will advance. This November 8th, you can begin the process of identifying and electing the Congress that our country needs. The question is, will you?