A Tyranny of Motherfuckers (Part of the "We Are So Fucked" Series):
Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert is a fat man. No, wait. That's an understatement. He is a huge, obese, wheezing hulk of a lard balloon. The 13th century Iranian poet Sa'di wrote of such overwhelming blubber, "The gluttonous man bears the weight of his corpulence; if he obtains not food, he bears the weight of grief. It is better that the stomach should be empty than the mind." Corpulence, at various times in Western history, has meant sin, greed, lustful appetites. Maxim Gorky, in his book Mother, wrote, "They glut themselves to corpulence, to vomiting—the servants of the devil of greed." To be such a fat fuck is a sad, sad thing, as Hastert must know. If one must reach around one's belly in order to grab one's cock, to piss, to jack off, to present it to hookers, then one will become a bitter, angry man, evincing power in other ways.
So, back in November 2003, Hastert made a speech at the Library of Congress, on the role of the Speaker of the House, listing guiding principles that a person of such power. Among his principles, like "respect the power of regular order" and "never forget who sent you to Congress in the first place: your consituents," is this, Denny's Fifth Principle of Speakering: "Please the majority of the majority. On occasion, a particular issue might excite a majority made up mostly of the minority. Campaign finance is a particularly good example of this phenomenon. The job of Speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs counter to the wishes of the majority of his majority . . I was not going to abandon my party’s position under any circumstances. On each piece of legislation, I actively seek to bring our party together. I do not feel comfortable scheduling any controversial legislation unless I know we have the votes on our side first."
Now, here we are, one year later, the conservatives flush with hubris and power, and principle has become policy. Hastert now says he simply will not allow bills, negotiated without the participation of House Democrats and with the Senate, to come to a vote unless "a majority of the majority" supports it. So, like, with, say, the intelligence "reform" act, supported by a large minority of the majority, a majority of the minority, the Senate, the public, and (at least through lip service) the President, it will not come to a vote. In things legislative, then, as in the executive, there is no longer a democracy. There is a tyranny of motherfuckers - unless the batshit insane nutzoids on the fringes of American politics agree, there will be no legislation passed. Simply put, nobody else matters now. Not the moderates in the Republican party, not the Democrats (who now have absolutely no power in the House), not even the President. There is no coalition, there is no compromise, nothing. Go fuck yourself. Motherfuckers on the right wanna get paid, bitches, and they will get paid, Fat Denny has essentially said.
Just for shits and giggles, because every once in a while it's nice to pause and remember when such things had meaning, here's the oath of office every member of the House of Representatives has to take: "I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God." Do you notice there the adherence to the Constitution, not to elected leaders? To ideas over politics? Denny doesn't.
And, just for even bigger shits and giggles, here's a line or two from the Code of Ethics for Government Service, affirmed by the House in 1958: "Any person in Government service should . . . Put loyalty to the highest moral principals and to country above loyalty to Government persons, party, or department . . . Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office, since a Government employee has no private word which can be binding on public duty . . . Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust." Really, and, c'mon, it's more quaint than the Geneva Conventions. Hastert has said that loyalty to party is more important than anything else. We are the United States of the Majority of the Majority.
There's a history lesson here: back a century ago, from 1903-1911, Joseph "Uncle Joe" Cannon, a Republican from Illinois, was Speaker of the House, and he led the Rules Committee to give himself (and the Speaker's position) an incredible amount of power, over committee assignments, legislation, and seating position at the cafeteria (no one wanted to sit next to Phineas "Pharty" McDaniel from Boston). Uncle Joe was such a dominating figure in American politics that his iron-fisted rule became known as "Cannonism." As Ronald Peters writes, "Cannon's position was not simply that the majority party should govern, but really that the majority of the majority party should govern." Cannon was a skinny man, severe looking, and he could compromise on some legislation, but mostly he was considered a tyrant (although a well-liked tyrant, like a fuzzy Mussolini doll). Cannon polarized the electorate, and his rule of the House became an issue for the Democrats, using his trampling of their rights as members in their campaigns for office. They also joined with moderate Republicans to change rules and eventually win back the House, driving Cannon out. Power shifted to the Majority Leader in the case of committee assignments, which, as we now know, was like saying you'd rather have your eyes pecked out by crows instead of buzzards.
So here is where we stand: every law, every budget, everything that passes through the chilled halls of the Congress must succeed because of a litmus test. The fat man has gotten his way. It's no longer the tyranny of the majority. It's the tyranny of perhaps 30% of the House of Representatives over every single one of us.