Aug 28, 2015
Politics and the Negative Option
Some of you may remember the old-style book clubs. You know, the ones where you received a book every month in the mail? Once you signed up, you got the book automatically and could only cancel it by remembering to say “no” in time before delivery. Many times you ended up having to pay for...
Once you signed up, you got the book automatically and could only cancel it by remembering to say “no” in time before delivery. Many times you ended up having to pay for books you didn’t want — or even know you were getting until they arrived.
The industry called it “negative option,” and consumers didn’t much like it.
Even though the publishing industry largely ditched the idea years ago, local and federal lawmakers are now embracing the concept.
Just look at the Iran treaty bill sponsored by Rebublican Foreign Relations Chair Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.
There was intense and well deserved scrutiny of this bad bill when the GOP controlled Congress passed it in early May. What may have been lost in the whirlwind of criticism is this simple concept that Andrew McCarthy explains in National Review:
The Constitution requires (a) treaties to be approved by a two-thirds supermajority of the Senate, and (b) bills regulating international commerce (e.g., sanctions against Iran) to be enacted under regular legislative rules – meaning, passage by majorities in both chambers, with all the usual parliamentary hurdles, before presidential signature.
But the Corker bill undermines these protections.
Under its terms, Obama can lift the sanctions against Iran unless both houses of Congress reject the deal by the two-thirds majorities necessary to override a presidential veto that was certain even before Obama promised it..”
So, instead of Congress voting to pass that treaty, the process shifts to the negative option: Congress must vote against the deal to stop Obama from putting the treaty in place.
Sounds Familiar if You Live in Conway?
This is the same slick arrangement that Mayor Townsell rigged up with his recent wild-eyed idea to commit millions of dollars to buy Spirit Homes for parks/swimming pool(s).
You remember — the City Council blessed the entire purchase under the smokescreen of a 45-day inspection period. As we told you back on May 14:
The mayor structured it so that ALL VOTES necessary for the purchase of the Spirit Homes building and property were taken Tuesday night. Although this deal has been sold as having a 45-day inspection period before the city is committed, that wasn’t how it played out.
NO FURTHER ACTION from the City Council is required to purchase Spirit Homes. If the Council does nothing else, the deal is done.
We all know that cooler heads somehow prevailed and the Spirit Homes purchase was defeated.
But the important part here is that last paragraph: “NO FURTHER ACTION from the City Council is required…” Conway effectively implemented its negative option by mandating that the Council had to affirmatively take action to stop what they were putting into place — regardless of the outcome of those feasibility studies and other actions passed that night.
You should know how much local and federal lawmakers like the negative option concept in government — it’s a trend we don’t want to continue.
We pretty much expect this from Progressive Democrats. No matter how “non-partisan” Conway government says it is, we all know how many constitutional conservatives serve on the City Council! Mayor Townsell’s actions show he doesn’t represent the conservative viewpoints of many of the City’s residents.
It’s disturbing to also see national GOP leaders embrace the negative option, and especially on such a total game-changer as the Iran nuclear treaty. Their Progressive roots are certainly showing!
Once consumers realized the way it worked against them, they cancelled their memberships in those negative option book clubs. The industry was forced to abandon that process.
Voters should be just as serious about the negative option in politics.