Politics Moves Fast, When It Wants To
Its Okay For People To Demand Things Quickly
We are now frequently told that to ask for quick results from the legislative process is to demand that an inherently slow system operate at a faster speed than it can possibly operate. Politics takes time, it is said, and for progressives and liberals asking Democratic leaders to move faster and bolder, they are asking for the impossible.
This is a terrible excuse and it is also untrue. When leaders in Washington really want to, they can move faster than the speed of light. The problem is, they have to want to do so.
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Take for instance the embarrassing speed at which the Senate - which is led by the Democratic Party currently - passed legislation to increase security for Supreme Court justices and their families. The Senate considered this legislation before even beginning debate on the bill to codify Roe vs. Wade into law. Why? Because it was something demanded by the elites and their allies in the media, who love to tone police protest when the left is up in arms.
But the same speed can be seen in Congress when it comes to the business of passing normal legislation.
The 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act, aka the Republican tax cut for millionaires, billionaires, and giant corporations, passed in the blink of an eye. It was introduced in the House on November 2, 2017. It passed the House on November 16, 2017. It passed the Senate on December 2, 2017, and Donald Trump signed it into law on December 22, 2017.
That’s 50 days.
But it isn’t just bad legislation that goes on the fast track.
The Rescue Plan is good legislation that has sent billions of dollars to ordinary American people. But look at that bill’s legislative path.
It was introduced in the house on February 24, 2021. It passed the House on February 27, 2021. It passed the Senate on March 6, 2021. And President Biden signed it into law on March 11, 2021.
That’s 15 days.
When Congress truly wants to act fast it can act fast, and to say otherwise is to ignore the truth. People have a right to demand that elected officials not only respond to important issues, but also they have a right to demand that those issues be dealt with quickly. Simply asserting that it “takes time” is erecting a defense of the indefensible.
Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his address at the March on Washington in 1963:
We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.
There has lately been this attitude among liberals that not accepting “wait” for an answer is a sign of political immaturity, a demonstration of unfamiliarity with “how this actually works.” But it is those who are making the excuses that are showing they don’t know how things really work, or should work.
Liberals, more than any other political group in America, have a responsibility to champion effective government. If we truly believe that government can work as an instrument of change, justice, and righteousness, then we also have an obligation not to accept stasis as merely “just the way things are.”
Government should be able to move quickly not just when billionaires are demanding their wealth be protected, but when basic rights - like the right of a woman to have an abortion or the rights of black and brown people not to be harassed and killed by the police - are under threat.
Government can move quickly and we should always demand that it do so.
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