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Is our focus on the wrong house? Should we be more concerned about the house with the big white dome rather than the residence on Pennsylvania Avenue? I'm inclined to think this is the case. Even Moses would be stymied if his tablets were subject to the whims of the Egyptians.  

Presently, the approval rating for the Congress is at an all time low; it's lower, even, than that of the Administration, which is also at a record low. That didn't stop the recent session from going on recess with several pieces of crucial legislation left on the table. It didn't stop Speaker Pelosi from blocking even taking a vote on the volatile issue of off-shore drilling. And, it begs the question . . . how do these people keep getting re-elected? Voting records are available for public scrutiny. Why is the 'party' of long-term incumbents almost guaranteed re-election with such abominable job performance? I've been delving into some interesting reading to attempt finding some answers.

I came across an interesting quote from Mark Twain uttered back in 1894. "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."  I have to wonder what the dear man would say today!

For decades, Congress has conclusively shown that they aren't, either willing or capable, of making tough decisions that affect the country as a whole. Points to be made here would fill a book. They are more concerned with re-election and protecting their retirement. I was somewhat surprised to learn that this is perpetuated because most voters are convinced that their own representatives are doing a good job. This results from, among many things, pandering to local constituents regardless the costs to the nation as a whole. It's the underlying cause behind all the 'pork barrel' scandals, including deliberately holding up bills they don't want to address by inserting the 'pork'. They all work together in these scams of compromise and collusion.  

The list of offenses I read was simply too lengthy to list here, and we've all heard of the infamous 'bridge to nowhere'. But one that jumped out at me was a $4 million dollar grant to an insect rearing facility in Stoneville, Mississippi. Insect rearing? Gracious! I'd have supplied them with insects enough right out of my Florida yard for nothing but the cost of capturing the little beasts!

This malady knows no party aisles. In 1993, the Republicans retook control of congress on a platform promising sweeping Congressional and Campaign Reform. They promised to abolish 200 outdated programs and three cabinet agencies. Two years later, little had been done. Term limits never even made it to a vote and a balanced budget amendment went down to defeat. The very spending habits that had cost the Democrats control were actually increased by the Republicans. They even spent $35 billion more than their own imposed limits. So, they simply raised the limit  by $94 billion more. So much for the 'conservatives' and congressional caps. Like the weather in Michigan, if you don't like it, hang around and it'll change!

Another ploy is the drafting of proposed legislation. The bills are broad and indistinct and written in terminology that makes examining or understanding them near impossible by anyone not holding a law degree. It's common for a piece of proposed legislation to require ten or fifteen thousand pages of fine print rhetoric. Members rarely read the bills. They have staffers to do all that. If a committee doesn't want, or does want, a bill to pass, they can insert a clause here and a clause there rendering an intelligent vote on the issue near impossible. Often why, the rare conscientious member will seemingly appear to flip or flop on an issue by his vote. The hidden stuff. I'm sure it has happened to all of them at one time or another when a particular issue was important to them. At least, if the bill goes down to defeat, it forces a rewrite and the games begin again.

What is most distressing of all to me, though, is the motivation behind all this mess. It's simply that congressional and judicial politicians now look at their job as a career; not the term of public service intended by the founders of the Constitution. Only the Executive branch is curtailed by term limits, when it's really Congress that wields the power. Albeit, subtly, at times. Think about it.

They set their own pay rates and increases. They set the minimum wage for the workers and allow ridiculous salaries to the CEO's of government controlled agencies. They control scheduling by how they draft a bill. They reward the lobbyists with your money in turn for theirs. They have their own health care system and their own retirement pensions guaranteed for life. Even if they are serving time in prison as convicted felons, the pension continues to roll in. If they are affected by inflation, they just raise their pay and their retirement fund to compensate. They have paid travel, postage, meals and automobiles. One term will guarantee some of these benefits, but the more terms served the more the perks and permanency of them. Why on earth would they be motivated for any kind of reform or term limits?  

Only we, the voters, can change that by not re-electing the same people over and over without thoroughly scrutinizing their record and demanding accountability by storming their local offices with protest. By writing letters, making phone calls, and letting them know we are watching for a change. By being informed on the issues and no matter how good they may sound, what's the catch? Who's paying for it? Ultimately, we all do. Uncle Sam is not in to giving gifts. Pay him now or pay him later with interest; lots and lots of interest.

I am on a mission to research the voting records of my local representatives and my state senators along with the presidential candidates. And, those of other powerful incumbents from other states, too. I have signed up for all their newsletters and I go over them with a fine-toothed comb. I compare their promises to their delivery. When I see a discrepancy, I contact them. Both presidential candidates are asking for 'service to the country'. This is something every voter can do. What better service to OUR country than demanding efficiency and honesty in OUR government? Real change IS going to have to come from the bottom up and it starts in the building with the dome.


Susan Haley, Author


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Bobbi Bacha wrote Oct 31, 2008
    • I concur with Mark Twain.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Oct 31, 2008
    • Well, girls . . . You’ve made my day! I don’t know how this older column got resurrected back into the light, but I’m sure relieved that it did this close to election.

      I’ve been led, the last nine years of my widowhood life, to play very close attention to the world around me. At the risk of sounding somewhat ‘off the wall‘, I’ve learned to priortize issues and observations, and yes, listen to the ‘small voice’ within.

      Like all of you, and especially due to the fact of my ‘profession’ (and I use that term loosely) as a writer, I’ve disected all the rhetoric of the last two years using observation and events, records and history, as my scalpel.
      First, I’ll urge that whatever your decision, please exercise your responsibility, notice I didn’t say ‘right‘, your responsibility to put thought into your decision and vote. Don’t be led or swayed by the negative, the lies, the charges and counter-charges, ponder on where we stand as a nation right now this minute, and then think of where you want to be standing this time next year. The decision is critical. Really critical. There is no place for sensationalism, promises, negativity, and especially fear. There is only a place for who can think and reason, remain focused, remain calm, and execute in a new world. There is a need to know the true meaning of the words socialism, capitalism, marxism, etc. We have just seen the greatest example of ‘socialism’ ever put forth with this recent Wall Street bailout. We have just seen the real ‘redistribution’ of your hard earned money. I only ask  . . . WHO was the recipient? I ask you to think about what corporations were the only one to show billions of profit in the last quarter while so many others struggle to remain afloat. In fact, it was a ‘record’ profit. Think about the billions spent each month on an errant war and who stated from the outset that it was a mistake. Think about who has endorsed who and who remains steadfastly in the hold. Then go vote! I’ve said and tried to bring ‘to the table’ all I can over the last few months. Now, it’s up to YOU. I’ve already voted.

      My best to all of you . . .

            Report  Reply

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