Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Congress Ignores the Will of the People

Who Do These People Think They Are? In short, they think they are our rulers and we are their servants, instead of it being the other way around. We elect them to serve their country and its people. Instead, they represent their own best interests and those of the wealthiest one percent. The fact is that most of them care much less about the country's welfare and much more about their own welfare and that of the richest among us.
Do We Have the Right People in Congress? Absolutely not! Members of Congress are the select few (535, to be exact) chosen from our entire population of 307 million who have been elected to represent the best interests of the entire country. Each House member represents an average of more than 700,000 citizens, and each Senator represents an average of more than 3 million citizens. That's a pretty heavy burden to bear, so it stands to reason that these representatives should be selected from among the cream of the crop of the political elite when it comes to intelligence, creativity, leadership, and the ability to accomplish meaningful legislation on behalf of their. Based upon the performance and achievements of the both the 112th and the 113th Congress (so far), we and they have failed miserably.
Who Are Their Constituencies? As stated elsewhere in this blog, Congress members have multiple constituencies, interests, and priorities. Often, these conflict with one another. That is when their priorities come into play. Here is my summation of the priorities of typical politicians at the state and federal levels.
  • Once in office, their first loyalty is to themselves and doing anything they can to ensure that they get reelected. One of the greatest fears of any Congress member is to get voted out of office.
  • Next is their allegiance to their political parties to ensure that enough of their members get elected to push their political agendas through their legislation. This will also help gain party support when the officeholder seeks reelection.
  • Third are their financial backers – the corporations and the super-rich who contribute heavily to Congressional campaigns, and who run ads supporting their anointed candidates while excoriating their opponents. This includes lobbyists, PACs, Super PACs, 527 Groups and other special interest groups. The ;politicians have to give something back to these entities in order to secure their financial support for reelection. Money talks, and politicians have perfect hearing – especially whenever the words “contribution”, “donation,” or “check” are mentioned.
  • Fourth come the people who voted for them. In public, most Congress members say these people are their constituents, but you can see just how high they come on their priority list. During election years, you will see them pandering to those whose votes they need to get reelected. In other years, they will do little for their benefit. However, when they do something for them, they will trumpet it from the heavens as though they are the second coming of the Messiah.
  • And dead last come the rest of the people in the country whose best interests they are also supposed to represent. This group represents the overwhelming majority of us. This is supposed to include voters and non-voters alike, whether children or adults, and whether they are eligible to vote or not.. However, most legislators tend to consider their state or district constituencies to be only those who voted for them prior elections.
Why Do They Ignore the Will of the American People? The simple reason for this is “because they can.” They know that they can thwart the will of the American people and still get reelected. They can do this for the following reasons:
  1. There is a built-in bias toward incumbents. Poll results released in October, 2011, showed that Congress had an approval rating of only 9%. However, another poll released in December, 2011, showed that:, although 76% of the people feel that most members of Congress don't deserve to be re-elected As a result, in 90% of the races, the incumbent gets reelected.
  2. Incumbents are able to raise more money than new office seekers. And it is well known that in more than 90% of the elections, the candidate who raises the most campaign funds wins the election.
  3. Electoral districts in most states are determined by politicians. As a result, the party in power generally secures a redistricting plan that is designed to keep party incumbents in office. Gerrymandering may be a dirty word to voters, but it is a Godsend to incumbent politicians because candidates from opposing parties are generally helpless in opposing this process.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of why it is so hard to unseat incumbents. With the deck stacked so heavily in their favor, it is little wonder that politicians turn a deaf ear to the people of this country.
What is the Effect of Incumbent Bias? When the same people get elected to Congress again and again, we get the same old ideas, the same old practices, and the same old cronyism . In essence, we have a stagnant Congress, but one that has a stranglehold on our country . These politicians don't care much about the will of the people, and they don't care at all about public opinion, whether expressed in letters, e-mails, tweets, or polls, because they have rigged things in favor of their election, term after term after term. This is certainly not to the advantage of our country.
People First. The people must come first, not last, and those who do not see that, agree with that, and legislate to that end do not represent the people and deserve to be voted out of office. That includes virtually every member of Congress, and it is almost impossible to determine the few who are the good apples in a basket of rotten ones. So, we might have to sacrifice a few of the the good ones for the sake of our country, its citizens, and our democracy.
Use Your Clout and Vote Them Out. It is time for us to muster our collective elective strength and vote as many incumbents out of office as we possibly can. We need to send a very strong but clear message to the remaining representatives that we are “mad as hell and we aren't going to take it any more.” At the same time, however, we don't want to vote in party politicians who are going to fall right in line with their cohorts and work for the same priorities as their predecessor. We don't just need new blood in Congress. We need a new source of that blood, and it preferably won't come from either the radical right or the extreme left. We need progressive populists who know the Constitution and what it stands for, and who will to restore to this country once again a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

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