A Well-Informed Electorate Elects a Responsible Government? Ask Eric Cantor

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“Reckless Eric” Cantor is a marvel to behold.

As a Congress, consisting of Tea Partying ignorati and well-heeled, corporately-funded and criminally-intentioned spivs on one side and spineless and cowering Mr Pooters crying out for nursemaids on the other, dithers and dathers about finalising a government budget, our Eric steps manfully into the fray to annouce that, should the Senate not decide to come to the table and submit a budget proposal for consideration before the approaching deadline of April 6th, then the budget passed by the House – the one which cuts Federal funding for such dangerous organisations as Planned Parenthood and NPR – will automatically become the law of the land, fiscally.

Our Eric says that with certainty. He says it, not only with certainty, but with clarity before the nation’s news media, who scribble away furiously on their notepads and raise nary a query about his pronouncement.

Well, our Eric is wrong. And with that arrogantly simple-minded statement, he proves patently that he’s unfit for the office of Congressman from the 7th District of the Commonwealth of Virginia, ne’mind Majority Leader for the House of Representatives.

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Somewhere, in some nether world, James Madison, who shares a common Virginian heritage with Eric and me, is screaming from beyond the grave. If you cup your ear, you can probably hear him.

What an insult to the author of the Constitution, that not only a Congressman, but also a leading politician from Madison’s home state, should be so ignorant of Congressional and Constitutional procedure!

I’m a product of the public school system in the Commonwealth. Way back in the dark ages, when Richard Nixon was President and VietNam was still in swing, as a high school junior and as part of my curriculum, I had to take a year-long civics course, simply entitled “Government.” Every high school junior and senior in the Commonwealth had to take the course, and we all had a red and blue textbook, with the title “U S Government” emblazoned in white across the front.

Up in Fauquier County, my teacher was a retired Army officer and avowed libertarian from an old Virginia family, named Col Slater V Marshall. We spent the entire first semester, studying the Constitution and the government, its three branches and their functions and how they related and policed one another in the system of checks and balances. We learned about elections. On Fridays, we discussed events current in the news and debated the hot topics of the day. When we’d finished an exhaustive study of our own government, at some point in the school year, we learned how a parliamentary democracy works, and we also studied how the then-Soviet Union was set up to govern.

One of the things we learned, whilst studying our own government, is how a bill becomes a law. As part of our exam process, we had to reiterate, in essay form, the passage of a bill from the moment it was introduced to the moment it became law.

Eric Cantor attended one of the most exclusive private boys’ schools in the Commonwealth. I can only imagine that they didn’t do a very good job of teaching civics there; and if they didn’t, I’m astounded that he didn’t pick this sort of information up during his undergraduate tenure at George Washington University or later in his law studies at William and Mary.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of Eric’s, but I give him credit where credit is due, for being able to be consistently re-elected to what is largely a very rural constituency. And I have to be honest. Virginians are Virginians. I’m as proud of Eric being Majority Leader of a party I don’t support as I’m as proud of Norfolk-born-and-bred Ed Schultz being a predominant political voice of the Left in the media. But anyone of my generation, and that includes Ed, would have choked chewing their cabbage to hear Eric pronounce that if the Senate didn’t act on presenting their version of the budget, then the House’s version becomes law. Without passing through the Senate. And I have to wonder how many people of subsequent generations, including those populating the political news media now, realised the enormous faux pas the House Majority Leader made in asserting that.

Because it’s simply not done.

Put simply, fiscal legislation begins in the House, is approved by the Senate (or is diddled with, sent back to the House to be passed) and then sent to the President for his signature or his veto. In asserting that the House rules supreme and supersedes the Senate, Eric’s either patently ignorant or pandering patently.

Which one?

I think the latter, and I think it’s just another in a long line of scare tactics which have become normal behaviour for the Republican Party. The fact that Reckless Eric blatantly made this statement on the record and in front of the nation’s cameras, and the fact that the news media covering the event, blithely recorded it and made no attempt to refute (or, indeed, “refudiate”) the assertion, is simply indicative of the collective ignorance pervading the country at the moment. In fact, the only media personality who actually picked up on Eric’s misguided assumption was Lawrence O’Donnell, who skewered Eric for his ignorance on last night’s The Last Word.

I don’t presume to know why none of the newshounds shadowing Eric didn’t pick up on his error. Maybe they were ignorant of the procedure, themselves. If that’s the case, they have precious little business covering events on Capitol Hill. Or maybe they knew and allowed this to be broadcast, in hopes that the informed viewing public would pick up on the discrepancy and howl in indignation at what was tantamount to a gross error in legislative procedure made by a senior member of the House majority party, which is probably assuming too much and giving too much credit to too many members of the viewing public, themselves.

More than likely, it’s probably a case of mutual and cynical pandering on the part of both Eric and the press. As we say in Virginia, Eric’s hankering for a full-on government shutdown. He’s so thirsty for it, he can barely resist licking his lips. He knows this isn’t 1994 – although if the GOP get absolute control of the government, as they have in some of the Midwestern states, it will be worse than Orwell’s 1984 – and he knows that, with the aid of a corrupt and compliant corporate media representing both the Right and the Left, blame for any government shutdown will be laid firmly at the President’s feet.

If that be the case, that’s not just shameful, it’s shameless and immoral. Not only does it show the disrespect evident for the President by various elected officials, it also shows the same on behalf of the media, who used to be trusted, reliably, to inform the public – and even worse, it shows the low regard with which elected officials and the media regard the general public.

Whose fault is that?

Well, it was yet another Virginian, the author of the Declaration of Independence, himself, who confidently asserted that a well-informed electorate can be trusted to chose a responsible government.

How long, then, is that piece of string?