So much for the "new" Democrats.
Having promised a return to a kinder, gentler Congress -- one in which the minority party would be accorded the respect due to all democratically elected members -- the new crew decided to hang onto the old rules for a while, after all.
Specifically, the Democrats running the House of Representatives reneged on their pledge to allow Republicans to participate in legislative deliberations, opting to keep in place the disenfranchising rules that Republicans had previously adopted. As a result, Democrats will be able to pass a package of bills designed to make them look good without putting up with the messiness of Republican ideas.
That, of course, is the reason to do this. Democrats want to pass bills they believe will be broadly popular, such as an increase in the minimum wage, and they want to do it quickly, to show how efficient and able they are. To accomplish that, all they had to do was break their promise to the American people and cling to a perversion of democracy that makes no one look good.
It's easy to pass laws if you ignore the fundamental concepts of checks, balances and loyal opposition. You could even make the trains run on time. But Democrats were elected, in part, because Americans were tired of Republican bullying, cheating and lying.
Voters wanted what Democrats told them they would provide: a Congress that valued honest debate, where government by the people was a real process and not a marionette show in which the party in power pulls all the strings.
Democrats may yet get around to delivering on their promise. Reports are that they are hiding behind existing rules only for the start of their new reign, and will soon open the legislative process to minority Republicans. If so, the Democrats may escape the ire of voters, who will have other things to think about two years hence.
But that's not much of an excuse for going back on a promise as fundamental to the concept of democratic government as this one was. Either they meant it or they didn't. What they proved with this maneuver is that they didn't. Not really.