Last night, in the wake of another landslide, incoming Speaker John Boehner sent a very different message: "While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people's House, we must remember it's the president who sets the agenda for our government."Saletan goes on to argue that Boehner is making an understandable, but defensive political move that could backfire. From my perspective, this comment makes me wonder if John Boehner understands the Constitutional role of the House of Representatives at all.
Having fought a war under the Articles of Confederation, the Founders saw the wisdom in having a strong executive at certain times. Also, knowing that passions can sometimes be overheated, they designed tempering forces in our system of government. But does anyone doubt that the House of Representatives was designed to be the unit of government most responsive to the people and, as such, most reflective of their desired agenda?
I'll leave it to others to track down the moment in time when the presidency grew so large that it began to overshadow the other branches of government, but I'm certain it was long before the election of 2008. The other thing I'm sure of is that the Congress, and more specifically, the House, was not designed nor intended to carry out the President's desired agenda, regardless of his party affiliation. That is what the Cabinet is for.
My understanding of American history and the Founder's intent may be imperfect, but it seems to me that the People's House ought to be in the vanguard when it comes to setting the agenda. Why doesn't the next Speaker of the House understand this?