By Garrett P. (Putman) Serviss
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Yet politics as practiced in Congress also entails working hard to understand the 22 St r e n g t h e n i n g C o n g r ess concerns of myriad people and interests, bridging differences with an eye toward finding common ground, and building a consensus about how to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. This is why it’s so important that despite all the difficulties Congress fulfill its constitutional mandate as an independent and coequal branch of government: because it plays a role that the executive doesn’t and the courts aren’t supposed to.
As the Congress takes up a long list of formidable public policy challenges, it could go a long way toward restoring public confidence by debating them carefully, fully, and accurately, with respect not only for the truth, but for its own role in making the laws of the nation. Why Congress Isn’t Efficient, and Shouldn’t Be While Congress’s shortcomings as a deliberative body may be responsible in part for its low public standing, there is another reason that probably trumps them: the widespread conviction that Congress is simply unable to act to get anything done—on Iraq, on health care, on any of the myriad issues that perplex and trouble the average American.
If all you care about is winning, perhaps process doesn’t matter. But, to my mind, that is not how democracy works. The democratic process is how we as a society examine the issues confronting us, attempt to reconcile competing views, and try to move forward even when we don’t all agree. For this to work, all involved have to feel that, even if the process didn’t produce the 34 St r e n g t h e n i n g C o n g r ess outcome they wanted, it was still fair—their voices were heard, their opinions considered, all competing options weighed.