Over the last -- I don't know it seems like forever -- couple of years, we've heard a lot of talk about the "Hastert Rule" in the dysfunctional belly of the House of Representatives. When I hear it, I usually snort derisively and mutter something like, "And who the hell made that a rule?"
The "Hastert Rule" means that a bill can only be introduced in the House if a majority of the majority (read, republican majority) supports it. This idiocy was the brainchild of the evil Newt Gingrich, who managed to alienate his House and lose the Speakership after he brought the government to a shutdown in 1995. Hastert was chosen to be Speaker of the House when the other options were too sleazy even for the republicans (I'm sorry, my disgust is showing.) Hastert was considered more moderate and reasonable.
Enter George W. Bush and his peaceable bunch of thugs. Next thing, in 2004 Hastert makes this "rule" the official policy of his speakership. Can you hear Democracy crying?
Well, today's wild bunch could not have wielded the wrecking ball quite so effectively without Boehner's insistence on following this nasty policy. Except when public pressure got to be too much, like on votes for relief from Hurricane Sandy, the "fiscal cliff" deal, and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. I imagine the Tea Party brats were in such a frenzy over not being able to throw their weight around that Boehner had to promise them, "You can have the Hastert Rule again next time."
So last week when the republicans were starting to get the feeling that the American people maybe didn't like them anymore, for example blaming them instead of the president for the shutdown, and the bullies in the backroom were having a good laugh over the wrecking of the government, Boehner caved and let that old Hastert Rule go.
But before that happened, the Speaker changed House rules just a little bit to prevent a Democrat from bringing up a vote to pass the Senate bill that would reopen the government:
This amazing piece of sleaze should make alarms go off throughout the country. But if Representative Van Hollen had not sent it out on youtube, we probably would have no idea.
We really need to ask ourselves why the media did not pick this up, and why every Democrat (and the occasional patriotic Republican) is not screaming bloody murder about this.
Not only have the republicans gotten away with a gerrymandering that prevents a majority of voters from choosing their representative, and then successfully made laws to limit voting by those groups more likely to vote Democrat, but with the "Hastert Rule" and House Resolution 368, they have taken steps to make certain that elected House Democrats are unable to participate in the workings of the House.
We need to know this is going on, and let others know whenever it happens. This is the sound of our Democracy getting flushed down the toilet in the interest of power.