In my time at RPI, I’ve read my share of ignorant political columns in The Poly, but the College Republicans’ piece from February 10 lowered the bar even further. I have several issues with Ashlee Giacalone’s ’10 column, and, grammar and punctuation errors aside, I will attempt to succinctly lay them out below.
First, Giacalone has redefined the GOP’s newfound power to filibuster in the Senate as a “check and balance” against the Democrats’ majority. A filibuster is simply not a part of the system of checks and balances. Checks and balances are the powers each branch of government has over the other, also known as the separation of powers. Filibustering is a loophole in Senate procedures that allows the minority to block a vote and halt all progress in the Senate if they strongly disagree with it. It’s the equivalent of three-year-olds holding their breathes until they get their way. Is this really what is best for America?
“Checks and balances” were never in jeopardy by the Democrats’ supermajority. If Congress really did pass a bill that “changed and manipulated” the Constitution, the Supreme Court (which is controlled by conservatives at the moment) would simply rule it unconstitutional. If the “original intent” of the framers of the Constitution really was for the Senate to need a 60 percent majority to get anything done, then they would have simply written it into the Constitution!
My second issue with Giacalone’s article is the claim that President Barack Obama and the “progressives” in Congress are pushing an “extreme socialist agenda.” There are three very different groups of people that have been lumped together: Democrats, socialists, and progressives. First, there is no question that Democrats in Washington are not real socialists. They just sent several billion dollars of taxpayer money to failing banks and automakers; if they were true socialists, that money would have been spent on public welfare and those companies would have been nationalized! Second, the progressive movement is not synonymous with the Democratic Party. There have been many successful progressive movements throughout American history, from ending slavery to extending voting rights to women, that have been essential to our nation and did not fall along party lines. On a personal note, I consider myself a progressive, and I feel very strongly about the implementation of nuclear power as a clean alternative source of energy. This is a position that has historically been supported by Republicans and not Democrats.
Finally, to use the blanket argument of labeling anything disagreeable as a “socialist” idea is nothing but a scare tactic and a disgrace to civil political discourse. Many “socialist” institutions in this country (such the fire department, postal service, and Medicare) work just fine. Historically, we have seen socialist economic systems crumble and fall. Yet more recently we have seen first-hand what happens when capitalism goes unchecked. Both systems have merits and flaws that cannot be ignored if we intend on having an honest and open discussion about the issues and not bloated rhetoric that achieves nothing and insults the intelligence of this paper’s readers.