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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Friday, March 04, 2005
Disenfranchisement of the Legislature
Posted 10:57 AM by Alan W. Bauerle
On Wednesday, Indiana House Democrats boycotted the entire session, leaving 132 bills on the floor. Two similar Democratic boycotts have recently taken place in Texas, primarily to prevent redistricting. Democrats also have prevented numerous federal judicial nominees from receiving a full vote in the Congress over the past five years. Rather than face the prospect of losing within the democratic processes of our representative republican form of government, they choose to not allow voting to take place at all. In short, a minority imposes it will upon the majority. Since we elect our Congresspersons to vote in our stead, this disenfranchises every voting citizen in the entire state.

Both parties have done this, of course. Indiana Republicans walked out of session last March when the (then majority-party) Democrats used their majority status to refuse to allow discussion on the gay-marriage amendment. From the linked article: "Dan Parker, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party, said the boycott was a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. "The people of Indiana deserve better," he said. "House Republicans should set aside divisive politics and get to work on issues that really matter to Hoosiers."

Within each branch of government, veto power, filibusters, and judicial review allow for small minorities or even a single individual to stifle the will of the majority, while still respecting the electorate's representative choices. However, these boycotts intentionally prevent our representatives from doing the work we elected them to do. Should there be sanctions and tangible consequences for those who circumvent the processes of the legislatures and thereby disenfranchise the entire state?

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