YAKIMA, Wash., March 2, 2013 ― It’s happened. As you read this, sequestration is taking place. Will it affect you? Maybe not. Will the economy collapse? Probably not. Will it change the way Congress does business? Almost definitely not.
As Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman would say, “what, me worry?” I wouldn’t, but I am watching the present politicos with great interest and amusement.
First of all, nothing that’s going on is new in terms of our history. From the day American became a nation, Congress has had titanic fights over issues great and small, and about what is the right course of action for the country. Congressional representatives have insulted each other, knifed each other, held duals and beaten each other senseless over legislation.
The pugilistic contests are well-documented and interesting to read about. One early account of congressional fisticuffs is found in Thomas Jefferson’s Autobiography. By the standards of our founding fathers’ day, Congress today is civil to the point of tedium.
So what makes Congress today different, even worse? In today’s political climate we have two major differences from earlier times: 1) We have not one extraordinary statesman, no one of the stature of those early brawlers, scarcely anyone who considers it their duty to bring the country forward; 2) we do not have a strong two-party system—the Republicans are in total disarray.
Today’s government is occupied by plutocrats that have little or no regard for what it means to move the country forward. They are either influenced by lobbyist, big business (like oil companies), or fearful that Grover Norquist will come gunning for them in their next primary because they didn’t vote “correctly.”
The plutocrats in Congress will still get paid while an estimated 1 million other federal workers will get their wages reduces through a furlough process, or may even be given pink slips.
Here’s a thought, let’s cut 15 percent from congressional members’ wages. Isn’t that reducing the size of government?
One major factor that is missing from our Congress is what we can call “the common experience.” If you look over the history of our country you will see there are at least four episodes that created the shared common experience that brings people together in promoting the greater good.
Those episodes are: 1) The Revolutionary War; 2) the Civil War; 3) World War I; and World War II.
In regards to each of these events, there was a period of time after the conclusion of the actual event that a feeling of shared common experience existed only to be replaced by the next event. But today there really hasn’t been that all-encompassing experience shared by a large portion of the population.
The last great period of the common experience was World War II, when literally millions of Americans fought and died overseas. And, as a result, the voters sent many legislators to Washington who shared the common experience of fighting in WWII.
Because of this common experience, these legislators worked together to build a strong, successful America. They were men like John Kennedy, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Ronald Reagan, and many others. They were men of different political beliefs but when the circumstance demanded it, they were able to work together and find a common path for the good of the country.
This ability to come together for the common good is what is lacking in Congress today. The men and women we have sent to represent us have no common experience to fall back on. They selfishly represent narrow interest groups of money and power.
The sequester will not hurt the rich, nor our legislators who are themselves rich. Here’s an interesting fact. Congressional representatives will not lose one cent of their salary, yet, their staffs will be cut, with some staff members losing their jobs and others having their incomes reduced.
Once again, our plutocrats have safe-guarded their standard of living at the expense of the rest of America.
Will the madness ever stop? Probably not. Will the economy collapse? Probably not. Will it affect you? Probably not. Will it change what’s going on in Congress? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Larry Momo writes for both The Washington Times Community Political Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.
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