If a jury is deadlocked, the courts declare a mistrial -- send the jury home -- and start over with a new one. Too bad we cannot do that with Congress. Unfortunately the U.S. Constitution makes no provision for the recall of members of the House or Senate. Only they can remove themselves, and what is the chance of that happening based upon their own failures to carry out their sworn duties! Normally we would expect those failures to reflect themselves in subsequent elections, but those elected apparently perceive this very intransigence as necessary to get them re-elected. Clinging to the party line no matter how contrary to the public good is essential. They fear that compromise will defeat them. Concession is traitorous to the cause, and as a result, we have a paralyzed government.
Courts instruct juries: It is your duty to talk with each other and make every reasonable effort to reach unanimous agreement. Listen carefully and respectfully to each other's views and keep an open mind. Do not hesitate to change your mind if you are convinced that the others are right and that your original position was wrong. It is important for you to reach a unanimous agreement, but only if you can do so honestly and in good conscience.
Members of Congress would be well advised to follow these instructions. The Republican goal to defeat President Obama and elect a Republican president seems to overshadow all other considerations. It might be great fun to focus on whether Michelle Bachmann knows "where the shot heard round the world was fired"; what Herman Cain knows about Libya; how much Newt Gingrich was paid by Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae; whether Mitt's Care resembles Obama's Care; what Jon Huntsman's daughters are saying on twitter; whether Rick Perry can count to three, and whether Rick Santorum believes life begins with impure thoughts; but in the meantime, millions are unemployed, the economy is in the tank, our roads and bridges are in decay, foreclosures and poverty are on the rise, police actions against protestors look like Syria, and we are all feeling a sense of despair and disgust at our elected representatives.
The Occupy movement may be disorganized; it may include some intent on partying, drumming or vandalism; it may provide a new (and needed) haven for the homeless, but it cannot be dismissed. No matter what its form or message, it is symbolic of the country's frustration and anger over the growing perception that the government and business protect the wealthy to the detriment of the middle class and the poor. Somehow describing class warfare as "class warfare" is characterized as "unpatriotic". But until someone can explain to me why a blood oath to maintain oil subsidies is more important than retaining school teachers, it's class warfare baby for me. So I suggest that Congress do what juries in this country are expected to do every day. Be fair. Listen. Be reasonable. Try to render some justice to everybody -- not only your contributors.
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