A Test Of Representative Democracy

I haven’t posted anything about the actual passage, and now the signature into law, of the “health care reform” legislation.  We are now learning about heretofore undiscussed provisions of the massive legislation — like the provision that requires disclosures of calories on the menus of restaurants, the provisions that exempt certain congressional staffers from certain aspects of the new law, and the special projects and funding agreements that secured some votes in the House of Representatives — and I have no doubt that we will learn more along those lines in the days to come. 

In any case, the “health care reform” bill is now a law, and Americans need to decide how to deal with it.  This country is a representative democracy.  The underlying concept of that form of government is that we are too big to have national plebiscites on every issue.  Instead, individual citizens elect representatives who then cast the determinative votes on legislation. Once they are in office, we must trust our elected representatives to exercise their best judgment, based on their knowledge of the issues and the interests of their constituents, in deciding how to vote.

In our system, therefore, the Members of Congress who voted in favor of the “health care reform” legislation had every right to do so.  They are not obligated to follow the currents of popular opinion or the findings of the latest poll.  Similarly, though, voters have every right to vote against a Member of Congress on the basis of their voting record.

The question now is how Americans will react come November, and whether they will vote out those Congressmen and Senators who voted for the “health care reform” legislation.  I know that many people are infuriated at what Congress has done.  Tonight, for example, as Kish and I were walking to the library we were stopped by a neighbor who vented for a good five minutes about the bill and the process by which it was enacted.  Will that neighbor have the same passion after months have passed?  Will she contribute to campaigns and canvas for candidates who vow to work to repeal the new law?  Only time will tell — but I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about the “health care reform” legislation in the coming months, from the media and our friends and neighbors.

Big Lift For Big Ten Basketball

The Big Ten is feeling pretty good about basketball these days.  With three teams — Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue — in the Sweet 16, the Big Ten has more teams still in contention than any other conference.  For a moment, at least, the Big Ten has quieted critics who say that the league pales in comparison to the Big East or the ACC, that Big Ten teams play a boring, bruising style that is not attractive to fans or talented players, and that Big Ten teams underperform in big games.

I’m not sure that you can conclude that the Big Ten was the strongest conference this year based on its performance in the NCAA Tournament, any more than you can argue that the league has sucked in the past based on prior tournament disappointments.  The NCAA Tournament often boils down to individual team match-ups that don’t allow for sweeping conclusions about entire leagues.  Still, it is gratifying for the Big Ten teams to perform well in the spotlight, and particularly meaningful because Michigan State and Purdue overcame significant injuries in winning their games to advance.

The reality is that the Big Ten plays good, solid basketball and features a number of tough, hard-nosed players who don’t quit.  The fact that most Big Ten teams score in the 50s and 60s, and not in the 70s and 80s, does not detract from the high level of play and fine coaching.  Perhaps, with this NCAA Tournament, basketball fans outside the Midwest are starting to realize that.