Tyranny of minority rule

Closed sign


Thanks to a small minority of ideological fanatics, the United States Congress has hijacked the government and driven it off a cliff.

Europeans, gazing in horror across the pond, are wondering who’s steering the ship of state and whether it will fetch up on a reef like the Costa Concordia, taking the global economy down with it.

Government by minority decree is anti-democratic, counter-productive and highly dangerous. Even Republican President William McKinley, while still a member of Congress, condemned it. “The tyranny of the minority is infinitely more odious and intolerable and more to be feared than that of the majority,” he warned. “… they (the minority) will either rule or ruin, although they are in the minority.”

The will to ruin seems to be the order of the day. We think our own Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, summed up the situation pretty well in a statement released earlier this week.

“There is no reason for us to be in this situation. Our government is closed because 40 or so radical Tea Party Republicans refuse to vote for any funding bill that doesn’t delay or defund the Affordable Care Act. This is a fight they’ve lost nearly 50 times in Congress, in a national election, and in the United States Supreme Court. Keeping the government shut down because Democrats want to make sure people can buy affordable health insurance is a thoughtless disregard for responsible governance and the people we serve.

“Democrats have compromised. I agreed to support a funding measure that included $72 billion in annualized, across-the-board spending cuts to keep the government open. The Senate passed this legislation multiple times before the government closed, but this wasn’t enough for the Tea Party wing of the House Majority …

“Their refusal to compromise is hurting our economy and country. It’s putting 800,000 federal employees out of work and delaying paychecks for 2 million more, cutting off food-safety operations and infectious disease surveillance, stopping important medical research … and costing the tax payers $150 million a day.

“Now the House Majority is trying to pass piecemeal funding measures to fund things like our national parks and the Department of Veterans Affairs. These bills are nothing more than cynical political ploys designed to lessen the outrage the House Majority is facing for shutting down the government.

“The right thing to do for our nation would be to pass the Senate’s compromise government funding legislation that protects health care reform and reduces spending. I stand ready to support such a bill … and many responsible members of the Republican Party in the House stand ready to pass such a bill. If it was put on the floor of the House today it would be passed and our government would be open tomorrow.

“It’s important for everyone in our nation that the institution of representative government works. Right now this important institution is being held hostage by a small fraction of extremists in the House Majority who are obsessed with sabotaging health care reform.”

This from a fiscally-conservative, Blue Dog Democrat, pretty much says it all. We couldn’t agree more.

  • Phineas Worthington

    Maybe the proponents of the ACA should make an effort to sell the product more and be open to compromise in its implementation for the other half of us who did not want it in the first place.

  • Robert Piazza

    Why is it the media (IT included) has such a problem with reporting the news in a unbiased manner?
    Doesn’t the administration and the senate have any responsibility for this shutdown of government?
    Unless you’re insane and argue with yourself, it still takes two to parties with opposing views to have a dispute!
    Why can’t you, the IT, just report or editorialize on the facts relating to the two points of view and let your intelligent readers make up their own minds? Wouldn’t that be novel?
    It’s called “fair and balanced reporting” by some people!

    • Phineas Worthington

      The IT is a private entity and they have every right to be unfair and unbalanced as they are. At least opposing views are occasionally printed. Thank Al Gore for the internet where there is more press freedom. It is no wonder politicians and news organizations are attempting to take away the special privileges of journalists from internet news makers as they seem to be doing a better job than the journalists.

  • Tom Sokolowski

    I agree with Mike Thompson. The Republicans lost every legal fight through our Democratic process, and are now resorting to means decried by the vast majority of patriotic Americans. I
    agree with the rights of a minority to be head, but not with their right to destroy our country to do so. Another nail in the coffin of the Republican Party.

    Phineas, you said: “The proponents of the ACA should make an effort to sell the product more and be open to compromise in its implementation for the other half of us who did not want it in the first place, but that is not happening.”

    Agreed, Obama did a lousy job on selling this to the public, unlike Bush’s magnificent job on selling us on an unnecessary and misbegotten war that cost us thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars for no good reason. Republicans are great salesmen, no doubt about it.

    Phineas, you said: “We are a limited representative republic with law subordinated to rights, not a majority rule political system.”

    Sorry Phineas, but we’re a democratic republic. Technically, we’re a constitutionally limited
    representative democratic republic. Our form of government and the Constitution limits the power of government. We elect representatives so we are a republic, but we elect them by majority rule so we’re a democracy. We’re a hybrid of the two.

    Phineas, you said: “There is nothing in the Spirit of ’76 that could even remotely justify this law.”

    You’ll have to take that up with the Congress who passed the bill, the Supreme Court who
    declared it constitutional, and the President who signed it into law. Also with the tens of millions of Americans who couldn’t afford it before but can now get affordable health care, those who cannot now be turned away by insurance companies because of pre-existing conditions they may have had, and the tens of thousands of folks who won’t be driven into bankruptcy because of their outrageously high medical bills. You’re just talking to the wrong folks Phineas.

    • Phineas Worthington

      Please read the Federalist Papers. The only part of government intended to be democratically elected by popular vote was the House. We no longer have a Constitutional Senate. Madison said quite clearly that the “great compromise”, the creation of the Senate, would be undone with the Constitution itself were the Senate ever popularly elected like the House. And that happened in 1913. State governments no longer have representation at the Federal level. We lost an essential check on populist law making and spending. And we have yet to correct it. This law would have never passed if state governments had representation within the central government because they would have seen the coercive tactics that were struck down by the court as anathema long before the thing passed a committee vote.

      “The evils we suffer arise from an excess of democracy,” Elbridge Gerry

      • Tom Sokolowski

        Well, we’re all pretty lucky then that Obamacare was passed by Congress, judged Constitutional by the Supreme Court, and signed into law by President Obama!
        Now we can be like the rest of the modern world in offering affordable health care to all Americans.

        • Phineas Worthington

          We shall see. My insurance already went up in cost. So I’m still unsold on the affordable part.

          • Tom Sokolowski

            You do know that if you already have insurance, you are not directly affected by Obamacare, right?
            ObamaCare will help you in one way by limiting the amounts they can raise your rates. Your coverage also might be rising because insurance your company was trying to grandfather you in at a higher rate before the protections went into effect.

            Anyway, you and your Libertarian friends will love Obamacare because it creates personal responsibility and ends the free ride of those getting their health care from the ER for free, which your and I pay for in higher taxes.

          • Phineas Worthington

            We’ll just have to agree to disagree on many if not most of the underlying principles of the matter.

            And I think proponents of the law should recognize that the law lacks the mechanics to self-correct or be reviewed after a period of time for efficacy.

            Opponents recognize that a new entitled constituency will be created that once entrenched will be hard if not impossible to scale back again if things go awry.

  • Tom Sokolowski

    Robert, you said: “Why is it the media (IT included) has such a problem with reporting the news in a unbiased manner?”

    What is not true or biased in the editorial? Could you be more specific because I scanned it pretty good, and it seemed quite accurate to me.

    Robert, you said: “Doesn’t the administration and the senate have any responsibility for this shutdown of government?”

    No, the government shutdown was caused by the Republicans in the House of Representatives because they hold the purse strings and it was their withholding of our money to the government that directly caused the shutdown.

    Robert, you said: “Unless you’re insane and argue with yourself, it still takes two to parties with opposing views to have a dispute!”

    Haven’t we already seen both sides for the past several months now? Obamacare is now law of the land, and the Republicans want to destroy it because they don’t like it. Since they can’t manage to do anything about it, they are shutting down the government and trying to blame the Democrats. Isn’t that about right?

    Robert, you said: “Why can’t you, the IT, just report or editorialize on the facts relating to the two points of view and let your intelligent readers make up their own minds?”

    Wouldn’t be an editorial if the IT followed your rules, right?

  • Chris Scott

    Mr Piazza wrote;

    “Why can’t you, the IT, just report or editorialize on the facts relating to the two points of view and let your intelligent readers make up their own minds? Wouldn’t that be novel? It’s called “fair and balanced reporting” by some people!”

    Would not proponents of Measure B follow your prescription and heal thyself, before prescribing for others.

    Why do the proponents of Measure B want to change the process that has worked well to keep Sonoma the community that it is over countless years? Why do the proponents of Measure B want to ban hotels of a particular type rather than let the people of Sonoma judge each proposed hotel project on its own merits based on the facts and let the intelligent citizens make up their own minds? If it aint broke don’t fix it.

    Mr Worthington;

    In 2010 the Tea Party cried, “shut down the government.” Congressional representative in office at the time proclaimed the same. Republican candidates in 2010 ran on a specific platform, if elected they would work to shut down the government. In 2010 they were elected and Republicans took over control of the House. They have worked for this ever since. On Monday last they succeeded. Michele Bachmann said, “…this is the happiest day. We said we would shut down government and we have.” Video of Republicans leaving their caucus meeting were not somber reflecting the extraordinary seriousness of steps they were about to take to shut down the government, they were positively gleeful.

    Mr Worthington;

    The historical references (i.e., The Kansas-Nebraska Act), you sometimes site as in this case, are often out of proportion and of dubious relevance to the matter at hand. You famously favor a bit of hyperbole to make a point but sometimes their applicability we have to report, gets lost in translation and itself from your thoughts to written word and ultimately to the minds of a reader. I find rereading my own writing several times and inserting a time delay before hitting, enter, is very valuable. I inevitably rewrite something. Just this writer’s opinion.

    (I’m always amazed by the phrase, that’s my opinion. Of course it’s your opinion you said it didn’t you? It’s redundant. Saying it is irrelevant. Then again, I suppose sometimes readers need to be reminded. Just my opinion.)

    Mr Worthington wrote,
    “We are a limited representative republic with, law subordinated to rights, not a majority rule political system.”

    We are precisely a majority rule political system. By philosophy, principles and agreement among ourselves as expressed and codified through our constitution, its amendments and system of laws are by choice a civil society governed by the rule of law.

    Rights are not unlimited. Our rights are subordinate to the rule of law. We have the right of free speech. But you cannot yell fire in a crowed theater with the intent to cause mayhem. That is the law. We have the right of assembly. But you do not have the right of free speech and assembly with the intent to insight riot, mayhem or lynch someone. That is the law. And so on…

    Our political system is a democratic republic. We are a democracy; a form of government in which people choose, elect, leaders by voting. The majority of votes, 50% plus one or more, determines the winner. We are a republic; a country governed by elected representatives, a legislature, and by an elected leader, president. Majority is precisely the rule of our political system. Voting is the definition and expression of majority rule. Democracy is a very messy for of government, mistakes are made as any number of examples clearly demonstrate. Nevertheless, there is no better system, Furthermore, our democratic republic’s founders were wise enough to also put in place a government of checks and balances to prevent the excesses of any one part of government coming to dominate over another.

    ACA & the Spirit of ‘76?
    Is it in that spirit in the 21st century, the greatest nation on earth, has some 40-45 million of its people under insured or uninsured, cannot get or afford, or are denied health care through no fault of their own. I.e., A baby born with a heart defect is denied insurance coverage because the insurance company decides the birth defect is a preexisting condition?

    Far too many creative, intelligent and or inspired people have been thwarted in their dreams because of fear of losing health care if they change jobs or leave their job to follow their dream – The Job Lock – denying us and our country of their ideas and talents? I have,, my wife has and many of my friends have been trapped by Job Lock throughout our careers.

    The ACA is the same as Social Security, the same as Medicare. Both were imperfect when first enacted, had problems when first implements and still has some problems to present day. But no one, except the most right or libertarian would do away with either though the opposition to each was the same as todays. ACA is going through the same experience. I think the initial problems can be viewed as a good problems, people cannot get through online or by phone because of the millions trying to access the ACA, learn about it for themselves and how to obtain health insurance.

    • Phineas Worthington

      What individual right does this law protect? Answer, none. It is an expansion of Medicare basically. And it will tax the young and healthy to pay for the sick and old. Plain and simple.

  • Phineas Worthington

    I’d like to suggest a compromise to POTUS, Congress, and everyone else. Put a sunset clause in the ACA law of say five years. If after five years it is shown to work, we keep it as it. If parts of it work and others don’t, we modify it. If it doesn’t work, we repeal it altogether. Just an idea.

  • Fred Allebach

    Here I thought the I-T was your run of the mill right winger, cash in, free market,
    money-centered profit mongers who are the same one percent that all these
    commenters love to justify and now they are all of a sudden ignorant lefties? Come on fellas, anyone can see that the sour grapes of 40 intransigent Congressmen is what is causing all the trouble.