This cannot happen again

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  • Dale Eisman

We hope the agreement announced today is a signal that a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress is ready – finally — to do the nation’s business.

The last few weeks have been an embarrassment for and a lesson to all Americans. We’ve seen a reckless, overzealous minority put hundreds of thousands of federal employees out of work, deprive millions of Americans of vital government services, bring us to the brink of economic ruin, shatter the world’s confidence in American leadership and badly undermine our democracy.

Simply put, this cannot happen again.

Preventing it requires that Congress change the way it operates to restore majority rule while protecting minority rights. Arcane rules and customs in both houses that allow the minority to block debate and prevent action must be replaced with a process that permits the majority to work its will while ensuring that minority views are heard and play a meaningful role in governance.

What’s more, we need to reform redistricting so that partisans are no longer able to divide the nation into deeply blue and deeply red congressional districts, where incumbents can safely hold their seats regardless of their performance. And we need to change the way we pay for elections, so a tiny, wealthy faction can no longer purchase political power and influence.

Along with those changes, we must have a bipartisan commitment to a government that pays its bills. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats must agree that America cannot be a deadbeat. We expect and respect partisan disagreements over tax and spending levels, but we cannot tolerate any course of action, or inaction, that triggers a default on the nation’s obligations.