© Josh Sager – August 2014
Ever since they gained power in 2010, the Republicans in the House of Representatives have had one goal: to obstruct everything, crippling the federal legislature and making it impossible for the Democrats to do anything to help the country.
They realize that they have lost control over the federal legislature to the Democrats and have decided to run out the clock on the Obama presidency by making it impossible for him to pass any legislation. While they cannot beat the left wing in the realm of ideas, they have gerrymandered enough Congressional districts to hold a safe majority of representation, despite the fact that they received significantly fewer votes than the Democrats. This control doesn’t allow them to pass any affirmative legislation, but it does allow them to kill virtually anything to come out of the Senate.
To top off their obstruction, the Republicans decry Obama’s use of executive orders to take even token and impermanent action in solving our nation’s problems (ex. instructing federal contractors not to discriminate against LGBT individuals)—in some cases, they have even started to discuss impeachment for these orders.
In short, the Republicans have given up governing and have become little more than a group of incoherent obstructionists, who spend their time begging for money from donors rather than actually doing their jobs. They believe that government cannot work, and have dedicated their political careers to ensuring that their belies become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Today, the Republicans have given us a great example of this ethos, by taking a five-week vacation to do “constituent outreach” and relax. They will take this time to get away from Washington and decompress from their immensely stressful job—I mean, come on, July was the first month this year where they worked a full 16 days (as opposed to their usual monthly average of 12 days). After such a strenuous work schedule, it is unsurprising that our poor senators need to get away to enjoy their $174,000 salary (not including their full benefits and government-funded healthcare).
While on vacation, the Congress will be able to comfortably observe the consequences of their inaction and await their return to Washington, when they can grandstand about the worsening problems facing our country. Emergency unemployment benefits have yet to be extended, the border crisis is worsening, the Middle East is exploding, Russia is arming separatists who shoot down international airlines, and the joblessness epidemic is strangling the American middle class.
All in, the Congress will only be in session for 113 days this year—most of which will be spent on pointless grandstanding about nonsensical issues—setting records for modern inaction. At best, we can hope that the Congress doesn’t shut down the federal government again or tank the national credit rating, as it appears that any significant legislation to fix real problems is unlikely to pass the extremist caucus in the House.
FYI – Assuming that our Representatives put in a full 8 hours each day that they are scheduled to work, they will receive cash compensation of $192.48 per hour, which is 19X higher than the $10.10 minimum wage increase that they are currently blocking – FYI
Fortunately, we are coming up on an election where, if enough people get angry and mobilized, we may be able to turn the tides. If the American people flock to the polls and repudiate the extremists in the Congress, it is possible that the Democrats could regain control over the House and action would again resume in the federal legislature.
If the Democrats regain the House, the Senate Republicans could nuke the filibuster and simply pass any legislation that they wanted virtually unopposed—the Democratic majorities in both Legislative bodies could push amendment-proof bills, which are immediately signed into law by the Obama Administration. Immigration reform and the DREAM Act, minimum wage increases, cuts to the military, progressive tax reform, jobs programs, and many other policy priorities appear far away, but they are actually just an election away.
In summary, if you want a House which will work for you, get out to vote for the best sane candidate in 2014 and deny the extremists continued control over our government. If you stay home in 2014, you will have nobody to blame but yourself when the malaise and gridlock in Washington continue to cripple our government.
I can only say we, as citizens, we get what we deserve. We put them there either through casting a vote in their direction or by staying home and letting others speak for us. This then is what we deserve.
I generally agree with you Valentine, but in this case no – we the American people did not get what we deserve. Yes, people didn’t vote, and yes, people are frequently ignorant of the politics that influence every facet of their lives; but despite all of that, we the people deserved and still do – all the rights and privileges afforded by our Constitution.
What is holding us back? People with very poor educations, people who are working three jobs to survive but haven’t the gas money to drive to the plls – put far enough away to discourage, those who want to vote and are prevented by gerrymandering, voter ID “laws”, fear, or worst of all the hopeless belief it will do no good to vote anyway.
But vote we must. And protest, get arrested, and protest again.
As biologist, mother and activist Sandra Steingraber explains ” Sometimes you need to feel unsafe”.
I agree with everything you have said here, however those of us who can help and don’t, who can stand up and don’t; we own the problem as much as those who simply don’t vote out of apathy.
Whether the inaction comes from apathy, partisan cynicism, or simply laziness, the result is the same. We must activate these inactive people so that we can prevent a rerun of 2010.