Monday, June 10, 2013

Congress in the sewer, democracy in hot water

Political extremes can either go to war with each other, or they can try to work together to compromise and hash out working solutions, that is if the personalities and chemistry are right, and there’s shared respect and shared goals, probably the biggest thing.
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This does not seem to exist in our current Congress, and voters are fed up.  The House’s recent approval of legislation that would strip protection from young undocumented immigrants, whom president Obama has tried to shield with a two-year deferral, embodies the worst kind of partisanship. The bill was added to a Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, a nasty move by Rep. Steve King (R, Iowa) and other Republicans  who act on personal animosity toward the president rather than the common good (David Grant in Christian Science Monitor, Yahoo, June 6, 2013).    

No wonder Congress’ approval rating is in the sewer according to recent polls.  Our national legislative body seems unable to step up to the shared goal of doing what’s best for the country as a whole.     

No respect, no civility, no ability to act beyond self-interested partisanship. Almost 67% of legislators get failing grades for their performance, or lack of it (Huffpost, 5 June 2013).  Squabbles over student loans, payroll tax extensions, immigration reform, a Farm Bill reauthorization that will cut food stamps while giving price supports to super wealthy agribusinesses--the list goes on and on. People are disgusted with the antics of legislators such as Reps. Darrell Issa (R, CA), Steve King (R, IA), Bob Goodlatte (R, Va), and Ohio's own John Boehner, the House majority leader who regularly fails to demonstrate the wisdom and temperance of leadership.   Oh for legislators who rose to the capabilities and compassion of Abe Lincoln as portrayed in Spielberg's film..  

Does Congress symbolize the state of mind of our country today, troubled, angry, and mean-spirited?  Or does it create its own reality through the antics of individual legislators tossed into a seething cauldron of partisanship without a sense of the common good? 

What would Alexis deToqueville think about our democracy today?  Would the French observer of the birth of our democratic institutions find the Congress as shameful and discouraging as the majority of Americans?  

Should we add to the current sad state of our governance the NSA’s intrusive wiretapping?  Has the vision of “Big Brother” in the movie Enemy of the State, with Will Smith and Gene Hackman, become a reality show? Did Obama know the extent of it? Is he able to address and fix it, or risk losing the confidence of voters?  

“We the people.” The common good. Honesty and transparency. Justice and wise leadership. Are our elected officials able to rise up and restore the principles that are the foundations of our democracy? Are "We the People?” 
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