Sen. Hawley on How Congress Functions — or Fails to Function

For those of us interested in how American government functions under conditions of extreme polarization, there is a passage worth noting inside the speech Sen. Hawley gave on the Senate floor yesterday (the speech is a lament on behalf of religious conservatives about the bargain they have struck with the Republican Party). It’s not that these observations about Congress haven’t been made by many others, but they have a special resonance coming from a sitting U.S. Senator:

[T]his body doesn’t want to make law. . . .

That’s because in order to make law, you have to take a vote. In order to vote, you have to be on the record. And to be on the record is to be held accountable. That’s what this body fears above all else. This body is terrified of being held accountable for anything on any subject.

For my perspective on how outside money in elections, excessive transparency requirements, and other factors have made this problem worse in recent decades, see Romanticizing Democracy, Political Fragmentation, and the Decline of American Government, here.


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