Want to re­ally drain the swamp?


While view­ing the con­gres­sional com­mit­tee hear­ings on the re­cent Supreme Court jus­tice nom­i­na­tion I thought, “And we’re pay­ing these bo­zos good Yan­kee money to do this?” Was this sup­posed to be a Supreme Court Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee ses­sion? They could have fooled me! I’ll bet that not one vote was changed by what came out of those hear­ings. Ev­ery­body al­ready knew how they are go­ing to vote. They were merely putting on a per­for­mance for the con­stituents back home to make them think they are ac­tu­ally do­ing the job they were elected to do. Con­gres­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tives spend over half their time fundrais­ing and hob­nob­bing with cor­po­rate lob­by­ists, those two ac­tiv­i­ties be­ing of­ten in­dis­tin­guish­able.

What can we do to put a stop to this non­sense? Vote them out of of­fice? They would only be re­placed by more well-in­ten­tioned pa­tri­otic in­di­vid­u­als who would quickly be­come con­sumed by the Wash­ing­ton cul­ture and fall into the same trap. It’s the sys­tem that’s broke and we must fix it.

Re­cent sur­veys re­veal an ap­proval rat­ing high of just 18 per­cent for our present Congress; that’s an 82% dis­ap­proval rat­ing. In an­other sur­vey con­gres­sional ap­proval was even lower, a shock­ing 10%. These low rat­ings have per­sisted for some time now, yet we keep send­ing these same bought-and-paid-for char­ac­ters back to Wash­ing­ton ev­ery two years. Our se­na­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives ob­vi­ously no longer have the con­sent of the gov­erned when their ap­proval rat­ings ap­proach sin­gle dig­its. What’s re­ally go­ing on here and what can we do about it?

Some have sug­gested con­gres­sional term lim­its such as most other demo­cratic republics im­pose. I would fa­vor this so­lu­tion if for no other rea­son than the con­gres­sional in­cum­bents them­selves and the cor­po­rate lob­by­ists so adamantly op­pose it. 70 years ago we im­posed term lim­its on our pres­i­dents by con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment, why not for our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives? They are even more ex­posed and sus­cep­ti­ble to par­ti­san in­flu­ences than pres­i­dents.

Term limit op­po­nents tell us we would lose the valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence of our in­cum­bent rep­re­sen­ta­tives. I say “great! That’s ex­actly what we have in mind.” We would lose the kind of ex­pe­ri­ence and re­la­tion­ships that have given us in­creas­ingly soar­ing deficits, bank­ing and sav­ings and loan scan­dals, un­nec­es­sary wars and an outof-con­trol mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial-con­gres­sional con­spir­acy with a bloated de­fense bud­get. The new rep­re­sen­ta­tives should bring with them fresh ex­pe­ri­ence from the real world. Political ob­server Paul Ja­cobs sug­gests that some of our present leg­isla­tive prob­lems might come from too much ex­pe­ri­ence in elec­toral ma­neu­ver­ing, political ex­pe­di­ency and deal-cutting.

New leg­is­la­tors al­most in­vari­ably be­come part of the exclusive in­grown Wash­ing­ton cul­ture of rep­re­sen­ta­tives, lob­by­ists, staffers and hang­ers-on. Con­se­quently, leg­isla­tive de­ci­sions quickly be­come in­flu­enced more by re­la­tion­ships than merit and are twice re­moved from the will of the elec­torate. With a con­stant turnover these cliques would have less time to build up and there would be less op­por­tu­nity to profit from such cozy ar­range­ments. Ex­pe­ri­ence with term lim­its in some state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments has re­sulted in a de­cided in­crease in the num­ber of can­di­dates run­ning for of­fice each term. That has to be a pos­i­tive sign.

A re­cent sur­vey showed that 84% of Amer­i­cans fa­vor con­gres­sional term lim­its. In a coun­try where it’s hard to get 51% of us to agree on any­thing that fig­ure should be con­vinc­ing enough. I say, let’s do it!

Ge­orge B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at [email protected]­south.net.


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