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Commentary :: Politics
Giving Us Every Reason
28 Dec 2011
Congress has not been doing their job for a long time and that has never been in question. With the exception of things like actions taken after 9/11 and the budgetary surplus handed down in 2001 we have as a nation not always looked at the profession of being a politician favorably. The reasons for this have most often emanated from Washington. It's only gotten worse over time and truthfully we have kept our hopes up high, but have been increasingly disappointed. Our current system has just not lived up to its promise with regards to two big parties being able to handle the needs and wants of a diverse society.
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This does not mean we need to change the constitution - at least I don't advocate for that. We don't. There's nothing limiting us to just two parties there. We can have as many as the people the people of the United States desire. Too many may get to be too much, but too little just has not worked out.

The two parties have become more interested in themselves than the people they represent. They are interested in money and power and work towards those ends. But public service should be about representing the people of whatever district you are from. Today's politicians have clearly forgotten that.

They stay mired in party politics and what is good for themselves come next election, thereby cutting off their collective nose to spite the face, in terms of the long view. The movement towards this totally polarized climate seemed to really make itself obvious during the 2010 elections where the GOP (not to blame one party) really seemed to come under pressure from one aspect of their party. It was a movement from within their party, their base and American conservatives in general - a Libertarian movement specifically - and that movement's message resonated with many conservatives and even non-conservatives.

Unlike the elections of 2006 and 2008 it had an appeal that was much less party focused though in the end it was certainly a conservative movement no doubt. In 2006 and 2008 the message was conservatives lied, cheated us into war and ruined our economy. After eight years of the Bush administration it was hard to deny it. Two wars and a ruined economy. But people could have voted for an establishment Democrat - yet they went with a maverick choice in Senator Barack Obama.

It was a maverick choice not because he was so new or because if elected he would be the first black president, but because his ideas were the most like what most people in the nation were feeling at the time. He said, "America, we tried that way, and we now need to move away from it." The nation agreed and came out in droves to vote for him. They believed he would keep his word. It was not just Democrats but a preponderance of independents and even a respectable level of Republicans. "We can't do it anymore, and this guy seems genuine as if he will do what he says."

We voted him in. But he turned around and just became essentially another George W Bush with regards to many of the critical issues he railed against in 2008 and in a really blatant and pitiful manner. It was as though he got into office just to turn around and with a snarky smile say to the nation "ha thought you were going to get hope and change huh? How's all that hopey changey stuff workin' out for ya?"

He let those voters down from 2008 and pitifully. Some clown in his administration convinced him voters weren't serious and could be treated like fools. So in 2010 people fed up with the failure of the Bush administration and the continuing disappointment regarding the Obama administration's inability to keep their promises, the people voted a majority of representatives into the house from the Republican party and balanced out the scales. They didn't vote in the GOP to both chambers of Congress because they didn't trust them. They did not keep their promises and really messed us up during the Bush administration with a patent disregard for the will of the nation. Vice President Cheney's famous "So?" being an example of the contempt for the ordinary person.

But the new "balance" turned out not to be that at all. Like children in nursery school throwing a tantrum they just sat in their corners pouting with arms crossed, red faced and shaking their heads on both sides of the isle refusing to come out and play. We packed their lunches, were nice to them, put on their favorite outfits and gave them their favorite snacks, but they refused to work. Like broken pieces in the machinery or parts made out of cheap material they just snapped, wore out and sat there stopping up the works.

Right now that's what we're stuck with. No new parties have come along to challenge and put checks on them. Yet that's what we need if we are to see real change. The only way to get a conservative voice on a bill when Republicans won't come out and play is to have an alternative conservative party in Congress ready to come to the table. The only way to have a progressive voice on a bill when Democrats are too scared of what will happen if they act decisively is to have an alternative progressive party present to act.

This doesn't mean we need to get rid of the other two just have alternate views and opinions. To have a group that can help move things along from each corner would be nice. There could be parties representing the centrists of the nation also, etc.

Sure the Tea Party came around and said they were independent but all their critics were proven right when they just turned out to be a part of the Republican party. There is Occupy Wall Street and they say they are independent right now, but they have also been heavily attacking one side only in action - Republicans. When we see sit ins in Washington and occupations of offices it is Republicans they are targeting and from the outside in an election year, that smells suspiciously like Earl Grey. As I am a supporter of theirs, hopefully they aren't a sham astroturf movement for the Democrats. They need to prove it with action as they say Washington needs to do. Otherwise, their movement has been co-opted by Democratic party operatives and if so can be no longer relevant. Astroturfing is astroturfing no matter which party does it.

For all the sincere efforts that would seem odd. They, unlike the Tea Party have been willing to endure and sacrifice much more and have actually done so. Only time and actions will tell, for now they remain as they started.

America is fed up with the political system and it shows in their approval ratings of Congress. As reported in NPR, "A Gallup poll published earlier this month found that just 11 percent of Americans approve of Congress' performance. A whopping 86 percent gave a thumbs-down. That's the lowest rating since Gallup started taking the public pulse on this issue in 1974. A similar poll conducted by The Associated Press registered a 12 percent approval rating, and a CBS/New York Times poll in October placed Congress' approval rating at 9 percent."

That same report continued, "'I think you'd have to go back to the 1850s to find a period of congressional dysfunction like the one we're in today,' says Daniel Feller, a professor of U.S. history at the University of Tennessee. Feller, who specializes in the Jacksonian, Antebellum and Civil War periods, points specifically to 1849-1860 when Congress sometimes struggled for months to even elect a speaker of the House.

"'Other periods of governmental deadlock include Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction presidency, Woodrow Wilson's conflict with Congress over the League of Nations and the fights between President Truman and the 'do-nothing' 80th Congress in 1947-48. 'None of those involved the level of conflict within Congress itself that we see today,' Feller says." (

The economy will rebound and the current conflicts in Afghanistan, Uganda and the thousands of "security contractors" we are paying for as taxpayers in Iraq will end. But what we have seen since 2009 is indicative of the way things have been heading and will go again. The fact is we are too diverse a society to have just two parties. It's not like picking from two different colas or detergent brands. This is legislation, and if you only have two parties and one sits it out as one has been doing since January of 2009 you get what we have had since then.

With alternative voices in Congress, legislation, which is what we are paying them to do, can still happen. We don't have shut downs brinksmanship of the same unproductive kind and we don't have our credit rating downgraded because of a lack of confidence in Congress due to their inability to act like adults. We would get those voices willing to work and thus much more done at those times like now when we need action the most. What a relief that would be, don't you think?

To read about my inspiration for this article go to
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