The Congress America deserves

The 113th Congress is a study in pettiness. Photo: Pete Souza (Executive Office of the President of the United States)

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., August 5, 2013 — The 113th United States Congress is the antithesis of the American decision-making ideal.

The American democratic experiment excels when representatives come together, put aside their partisan differences, and do the work of the country. Perhaps this was the idea behind the creation of America’s bicameral legislature, the positive assumption that men and women elected to represent their respective districts would be willing to work together for a higher ideal.

Obviously, those who may have subscribed to this theory have never met the 113th United States Congress. 

Seldom has there been a more divided and vindictive group in such a position of influence. The legislative inaction alone ought to upset every American, regardless of party affiliation. One would assume that reasonable people can disagree while still retaining the ability to do their jobs. Maybe the problem is that an increasing number of representatives have lost sight of what it is they are in Washington to do.

Throughout the last two decades, the nation’s capitol has become a breeding ground for lobbying firms. They are beholden to nobody except the corporations they shill for and they spend every day bribing and cajoling members of Congress. From burying the occasional addendum in a bill to penning complete pieces of legislation, lobbyists are the ones pulling the strings in Washington these days. America’s representatives are now reduced to figureheads, offering deniability and a righteous facade to the backdoor deals and shady pay outs.

The current house of representatives has a Republican majority. This should not affect its ability to represent its constituents but it has forgone that objective for a simpler one: undermining the authority and agenda of President Obama. That the house majority disagrees with the President is one thing, that they have decided to oppose every proposal instead of working to better the lives of the people who sent them to Washington is tragic.

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Americans need public sector jobs, a vibrant and supported public school system, a revitalized infrastructure of roads, bridges and civic projects. Americans need affordable health care and a living wage. None of this appears to matter to the 113th Congress. Many of the Representatives, entranced by the wealth they see in the lobbying firms, are spending their time in Washington trying to make the right connections so that, once their term is up, they can switch careers. The plight of people back home are a distant memory.

There is very little debate. Mostly now there is only vitriol and acerbic protestations. The house despises the President and has forsaken the many to defeat one while the Senate is controlled by the Democrats, sworn to buffer the President and beat back the Conservative hoards. There is important work to be done, millions of people depending on them and yet this congress remains too petty to care, locked in legislative discord. There are the odd voices on either side who push for detente but it is fruitless.

This is the Congress America deserves. When people reward bigotry, shortsightedness  and xenophobia by electing those who preach it to represent them, they reap what they sow. The 113th Congress has been an embarrassment as a governing body. People can complain, point at the myriad of problems Congress could be working to solve, but, ultimately, they have only themselves to blame.

Until Americans can look past stark, divisive rhetoric and flashy slogans, they will be perpetually unable to elect potent representation. Lawmakers eager to go to Washington must prove themselves up to the task and, regardless of party affiliation, able to engage in constructive discourse on the issues of all Americans, not just the lobbyists and the billion-dollar companies they work for.  

Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.

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Russ Rankin

Santa Cruz, California native Russ Rankin is the vocalist for the seminal California punk band Good Riddance, the hard rock band Only Crime as well as currently performing original songs as a solo artist. Rankin is a dedicated vegan, an avid animal rights advocate, a political activist and has been a regular columnist for AMP Magazine and New Noise Magazine as well as contributing to various magazines such as Alternative Press, Razorcake and others. 

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