by Cathy Sewell
I think I understand one of the reasons the tea party folks elected in 2010 seem so uneducated about government and governing. Time was, incoming freshman representatives and senators were expected to attend a weeklong seminar on governance, conducted at Harvard, prior to taking their seats representing the people. The seminar provided basic insights into the system of governing. Doesn't this seem like a reasonable first step in becoming a public servant?
Unfortunately, this small but important informational seminar hasn’t been provided to incoming congresspersons since the mid-nineties. Why? You might have guessed, based on the time frame, that it was Newt Gingrich who put the kibosh on this practice. He didn’t want Harvard’s “liberal” influence tainting the congressional newcomers. He also told the newbies to go home as often as possible. He didn’t want to have them forge any friendships with liberals. So, the era of Reagan/ Tip O'Neil friendly adversarial relationships was over. Thank you, Newtie, for creating an environment where "know-nothings" flourish.
Lawmakers who don’t know the inner workings of the system can’t get it right when huge decisions are necessary; i.e., the raising of the debt ceiling. Tea party and other right-wing conservative newbies signed a "pledge" provided by Grover Norquist, that they would never raise taxes. They refused to budge. Such simplistic thinking took the country to the brink of disaster.
We can’t let the know-nothings continue to frame the debate.
We need to become activists in our own communities to ensure we elect Democrats in 2012 who share our ideals of fairness for all. Be sure to call our office if you want to help: 630-629-1125. We need all hands on deck to create the future we want for our country.
Cathy Sewell is First Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of DuPage County