Ah, Democracy. Think of the word, think of the United States of America. Think of the founding fathers forging the Constitution. Think of the Civil Rights Act, the New Deal labor laws, the trailblazing laws and reforms resultant of bold action from the American people. Think of bald eagles and bleached marble. And most of all, think of Republican Congressmen, huddled around a speaker phone in a conference call with a Canadian oil company, concocting a game plan to build a massive pipeline through the heart of America.
Come again? Well, that's what's happening now. Here's Politico:
House and Senate GOP staff gathered Monday afternoon for a conference call with TransCanada counsel to plot out how to push the Obama administration on the Keystone XL pipeline."More or less everyone walked out of the room on the same page backing" a bill from Rep. Lee Terry to give FERC authority over the project instead of the White House and State Department, a Terry spokesman told POLITICOYes, it looks like the Republicans are going to try to add a new rider to the next payroll tax cut bill (remember, the last one was a stopgap measure that only took effect for two months), since their last rider blew up so spectacularly in their face.
But just examine again the dispatch from Politico above. Is this how you want democracy to work? Should major oil companies—and foreign oil companies at that—have a direct line to our top lawmakers? It's yet another demonstration, in a long line of them, of how the 1% (even the Canadian 1%!) gets more access and influence in Washington than anyone else.
It took months of spirited protest, thousands of people risking arrest in acts of civil disobedience, and nationwide pleas from an impassioned public to get Washington's ear on why the Keystone XL was a bad idea. It took a single phone call from a major oil company to get one of the nation's two great political parties fighting tooth and nail on its behalf. Like I said: Democracy at its finest.