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posted: 10/14/2013 5:00 AM

Things civics class never taught me

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As the events in Washington unfold and the federal shutdown continues, I have to wonder why back when I was in school my history and civics teachers never told me how the federal government really functions. I thought that when a law was passed by a majority of both houses, and the president signed it, it was a law. Unless, of course, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. Or another law was subsequently passed and approved by the president that countermanded the original law.

Shame on me for believing what my teachers taught me. Or my teachers for leaving out the tricky stuff. Little did I know that laws like Obamacare are open to negotiations and existing laws can be successfully challenged by an organized and persistent minority without needing a majority of both houses. And that majority rules is just a myth; if a minority wants a law changed, there are plenty of tricks they can pull to gum up the works without passing new laws to replace old ones.

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I kind of miss the days when I thought "majority rules" was how government functions. And I miss thinking that majority rule was what our Founding Fathers wanted. Silly me.

George Peternel

Arlington Heights

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