ICYMI: Congress Indispensable
Philip Wallach writes in National Affairs:
“Congress is a mess. It seems incapable of passing major legislation; it is divided by bitter animosities, held in almost universal contempt, and without an apparent plan to right itself. So goes the conventional wisdom, and, as of early 2018, it is mostly right.
But saying that Congress is troubled is very different from offering a clear direction for reform. Strikingly few people — including among our elected officials themselves — have a strong sense of what Congress’s institutional identity ought to be, or can say what a functional Congress ought to do in our 21st-century constitutional system. Taking up a long intellectual tradition running back through Woodrow Wilson, many intelligent observers have become convinced that Congress is obsolete, and the best thing it could do is just get out of the way.
Properly understood, however, Congress is no anachronism. The very features that would-be reformers find most exasperating — its messiness, balkiness, and cacophony — are those that render our representative legislature capable, in ways the other branches are not, of maintaining the bonds that hold together our sprawling republic. Critics of Congress are right to think that the legislature is a poor champion of efficient government relative to the executive branch, but they fail to realize the deeper goods and goals that representative government serves, namely promoting provisional coalition-building, generating trust, and creating real political accountability….”