Josh Marshall on TPM: 3 days online may be good reform issue for Dems (11/28/04)

Marshall’s post from late 2004 is undecided. But he points out that this issue raises the question of whether Democrats can “start acting like a true opposition party.”

excerpts follow:
by Joshua Micah Marshall
November 28, 2004 — 01:59 PM EDT


But why should only legislators get a chance to look at the bill? Forget the issue of purported centrality of blogs. Why not make bills publicly and readily available (and I emphasize ‘readily’) for three days before they can be brought to a vote?

I can think of a number of reasons why not to. (I can imagine friends on the Hill sending me long lists of them.) But I’m not sure any of them are good reasons. Yes, it would expose the unseemly work of legislative horse-trading without which successful coalition and law-making may not be possible. A more valid concern is that the ‘public’ process would be heavily weighted toward single-interest advocacy groups — pro-choice and pro-life, gun control vs. pro-gun, etc. — since those are the only ones organized and resourceful enough to act.

But again, are any of those reasons good ones balanced against the public’s right to know in advance what their elected representatives are voting on? And, remember, this isn’t some abstract issue of transparency. Keeping the contents of legislation not only secret from the public but from legislators themselves kills accountability and makes it far too easy for private interests to feed off the public interest.

Lurking in the background here are two related issues we’ll be returning to: whether the Democratic party can embrace a true, rather than a cosmetic, agenda of reform and whether Democrats, after ten years out of power in Congress and four years in exile from the White House, can start acting like a true opposition party.