One of the things I learned when I worked for Bob Michel and his legendary floor adviser Bill Pitts is that the legislative process matters.

It matters not only because a good legislative process begets good legislation. It also matters because the legislative process is what separates democracy from tyranny.

The rules of the House have been established for over 200 years to carefully balance the rights of the minority with the needs of the majority to expedite legislation.

Unlike the Senate, which requires a supermajority to get anything done, the House requires only a simple majority on most legislation. (Bills that come to the floor without a rule require a two-thirds vote.)

When Republicans ran the House, they made some mistakes in how they protected the rights of the minority. While they always guaranteed the right of the majority to have a chance to amend the legislation (many times with a motion to recommit) they certainly didn’t bend over backwards to be overly fair to the minority. They should have done so, because it would have been good for the legislative process.

They didn’t do so because they were afraid of some of the politically motivated votes that they would have been forced to take by a clever minority, and they were afraid that they might have lost some votes.

Democrats loudly complained about the tactics used by the Republican leadership. They promised that when they got the majority, they would offer a new, more open process that would guarantee the rights of the minority.

As soon as they got the majority, they went back on their word.

In fact, ever since the new Democratic leadership has been in place, they have made a mockery of their promises.

From day one, when Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the Speaker’s gavel, she has abused the process. She started by going directly to the floor with her rules package, without even getting input from her caucus. Her vaunted “Six for ’06”legislative package all went to the floor with closed rules, without any Republican input.

Things have gone from bad to worse. Today, she has decided to bypass the Appropriations Committee and take a supplemental war-spending bill directly to the House floor. Worse, she has take parliamentary steps to ensure that the bill would go directly to the Senate, and then directly to the White House for a veto, without ever having to go through a conference process.

The Appropriations Committee was often mistreated and unduly pressured when Republicans were in the majority, but it was never completely ignored. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) is so incensed about these tactics that he has decided to mark up a bill with or without his leadership’s support.

Pelosi is going through these parliamentary gymnastics because she doesn’t have the votes to support her position. Instead, through sheer willpower, she is trying to force her way on a piece of legislation that is going nowhere fast.

The fact of the matter is that most Americans want the Congress to support our troops. Most Americans don’t want a premature pullout from Iraq that could possibly harm our national security. And most Americans want their Congress to act fairly and competently on those issues that mean the most to them.

By abusing the legislative process, the House Democratic leadership abuses the trust placed in her by the American people. It might seem like arcane mumbo jumbo, but the process really does matter.