Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Speaker of the House Philosophy

The Right-Honorable John Bercow
Speaker of the British Parliament, Elected 2009
No Party Affiliation
Speaker Boehner has worked himself into quite a pickle.  On one side, he has right-wing extremists who threaten his speakership if he concedes to Democratic demands to pass a clean Continuing Resolution…while on the other hand he’s facing a very angry electorate who will ultimately dump him like a bad habit if he doesn't pass a clean C.R..  So what ever should he do?

The Right-Honorable Sir Arthur Guinness
Speaker of the House, New Zealand, 1911

Well, before I answer that question, let’s look at what a speaker SHOULD be as compared to the speaker we have now.  The Speaker of the House is the 3rd most powerful man in the US Government.  He’s 3rd in line for the presidency, he’s autocratic leader of the entire Lower House of Congress, and he pretty much has the power to do whatever he wants in regards to the House business.  When looking at other types of speakers of the house in other systems of government, the speaker often elected by the entire body of legislators.  The Speaker of the United Kingdom Parliament is often one who is regarded as fair and entirely equitable, having no party affiliation or loyalty during his time in as the speaker.  He mediates disputes and maintains the house rules and delegates which members can speak at which time.  He’s also a non-voting member of parliament and does not vote except in cases of a tie.  And in even in that circumstance, the rules of voting while the speaker are very strict as to maintain a non-partisan status. 

John Boehner, 

Speaker of the House
Republican, Elected Jan 2011
The role of the speaker, in my view, is to serve as a servant of the houses factions.  He should be one who organizes the agenda proportionally, allowing all members to vote on whatever piece of legislation either side wishes to present.  Now, I’m not saying that there should not be any order to it…but I do believe that the issues discussed in the House should be representative of the house’s membership.  So if Democrats control 55% of the membership and Republicans 45%...then 55% of the issues discussed in the House should be from Democrats, and 45% from Republicans.  A fair, proportional, equitable division of the issues presented.  The speaker’s role in this regard is to make sure that the rules of order are followed, that the time to speak be divided evenly and fairly, and that the parties behave themselves in a civil manner.  Further, the speaker should never be a partisan in any way when an issue affecting national issues occur.  The Speaker’s role is to ensure that the rules of the House are enforced and not to selectively enforce them or give special preference to his or her own party. 
Nancy Pelosi, 

Former Speaker of the House, Democrat
Elected 2009

Some changes that I would like to see in the House in regards to a speaker is a 2/3rds majority vote for the job.  That a simple majority is insufficient to elect a speaker that is truly viewed as non-partisan.  A non-partisan speaker is essential to the functioning of the chamber and ensures a fair and equitable exchange of dialogue between the parties.  It also would ensure that the speaker maintains a good relationship with all parties and divides the work proportionally.  Finally, a vote of no-confidence which can be initiated by a petition signed by 1/3 of the chamber’s members.  This would also keep the speaker’s non-partisan status enforced and would ensure that the speaker appeals to ALL members of the chamber to maintain fairness and equality to all parties and members.

Thanks for your time, and please follow me: 

Twitter: @gdgivens
Facebook as well: 

No comments:

Post a Comment