Politicians love to bamboozle us with memorable words and phrases. They seem to believe that we are unable to understand and retain logical ideas and arguments, so they communicate with us using buzzwords that trigger our “hot buttons.” Copyright 1994 by David W. NeuendorfTake a term like “soft on crime.” This can be used by any politician to attack any other politician, because it can be interpreted in many different ways. Or how about those perennial favorites, “entitlement,” “pork barrel,” and “special interests?”
My personal favorite is a word that got off to a bad start describing an irritating traffic phenomenon: “gridlock.” Imagine a city laid out in a grid of rectangular blocks, with a traffic light at each corner, and no special provision for left turns. Throw in some rush hour traffic and one or two fender benders. What do you have? Gridlock. Applied to the Federal government, gridlock is the difficulty of getting the President and both Houses of Congress to agree on proposed laws.
Right now, gridlock is being blamed for the failure of Hillary Clinton’s Health Monstrosity, an “ethics” bill that would have regulated the free speech of members of grass-roots “lobbying” organizations, and other parts of the President’s legislative program. In years past, gridlock was fingered as the culprit behind delays in ratifying some dangerous United Nations-promoted treaties, and passage of gun-control laws. It has been responsible for slowing down the wholesale adoption of the extreme environmentalists’ agenda, and countless other pet projects of Liberals.
Since gridlock has been such a stumbling block for the socialization of America, it is a popular target for political ranting. All kinds of plans have been put forth in order to remove gridlock from our political process. President Clinton predictably preaches that electing a more Democratic Congress would do the job. Others would like to eliminate the Senate’s power to kill a bill by filibuster. Every now and then, some frustrated tyrant even proposes scrapping our Constitution in favor of a parliamentary government, as a way to grease the skids for government-expanding legislation.
I think our friend gridlock has gotten a bum rap. If you think about it, gridlock is the natural result of those “checks and balances” we all learned about in government class. Our Founding Fathers wisely built into their new government, through the Constitution, certain roadblocks for the adoption of new legislation. For a bill to become law, the President and both Houses of Congress must all be in agreement during the same year. If a controversial bill makes it this far, chances are that it will be challenged in Federal Court to make sure that it doesn’t violate the Constitution. Enough bad bills do make it past these hurdles anyway. Imagine the situation if we removed some of the obstacles.
Thomas Jefferson is noted for his many wise admonitions about government. Perhaps the most famous of all: “That government is best that governs least.” The checks and balances of our US Constitution have helped to put that advice into practice, by creating gridlock when someone tries to expand the role of government. Whenever I give thanks for God’s gifts to our nation, I especially remember that uniquely American blessing: gridlock.