A Crash Of Symbols

The newly-Republican House has announced two of their first planned actions once they formally take office and power. First up, they’re going to read the entire Constitution on the floor of the House. Then, the first bill they will file will be the repeal of ObamaCare.

On the former, I wonder just what they will read –the whole thing, including the parts that have since been repealed and amendments, or just the main body as amended? But that’s just the nerd in me.

Silghtly more important, I wonder what they hope to accomplish by doing these — because both are essentially symbolic gestures, and I have a bias against such things.

In this case, though, I think that there is some real meaning and significance of both actions.

The reading of the Constitution is being couched as a declaration of principles, of reminding all — including themselves and each other — of the most important aspect of being a legislator. The Constitution is the highest law in the land, and it should always be in the forefront of lawmakers. A re-reading could only do good.

The ObamaCare repeal is already doomed to fail. It will pass the House comfortably. It will most likely die in the Senate, where the Republicans only hold 49 of 51 47 of 100 seats. And the Democrats — with their 49 51 official members and 2 “independent” Senators who are Democrats in all but name (Lieberman and Sanders) — can either openly defeat it or procedurally kill it. And even if the repeal passes the Senate, it faces a guaranteed Obama veto — and the GOP will never get to 2/3 in either House to override the veto.

So, if in the end neither will really achieve anything, why do them? That’s often been my objection.

The reason is that there are two purposes behind these actions, which will go nowhere.

The first is that it is a declaration of principles by the new House, spelling out what they believe in and what they intend to do. It’s a shot across the bow of the Democratic Senate and the Obama White House — this is a warning of what’s to come.

The other reason is to give their supporters in the public reassurance — that they know why they’re there, why they were voted for, and what their supporters want. They are forswearing the ignorance excuse — these two moves show that they know what the priorities are of their backers. They are saying, in effect, “this is a taste of what we intend to do. Please hold us to them.”

So yeah, the Republicans in the House are going to read the Constitution aloud, and then pass a bill to repeal ObamaCare. The former will be nice, the latter will fail in relatively short order.

But it just might — I hope — be a peek into the shape of things to come. And I love teasers and spoilers.

Senate numbers fixed. Thanks, folks.

Big Daddy Leadfoot
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