Why We Need a New Congress
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We are living in frighteningly-accelerating death spiral in Congress between Trumpian Republican oligarchy and Democratic incompetence – at a time when we are as bitterly divided as a nation as we were in the years leading up to the Civil War.
As Marc A. Thiessen bleakly describes in the Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-immigration-democrats-give-trump-the-upper-hand–again, once more, this time with immigration, feckless Democrats have managed to yank defeat from the jaws of victory. Meanwhile, Trump’s attack on the very roots of American democracy continues unabated.
Yes, the separation of families is unspeakably cruel, especially in the typically Trump haphazard, chaotic, “don’t think about the details” way it was carried out. And yes, immigration as a process has played a vital role in America’s growth and greatness. We ARE a nation of immigrants – your ancestors and mine − whose desire to create a better life for themselves and their families made the “American Dream” a reality.
But what we’re dealing with now isn’t normal immigration. It’s a refugee crisis driven by war, poverty, and political unrest, comparable to the crisis of refugees from Africa and the Middle East overwhelming Western Europe. The Democratic Party and its leadership, Senator Feinstein, has failed to understand and deal with this changed reality. What we got instead, in the legally-flawed proposed extension of “catch and release,” was both bad policy and bad politics.
How the Democrats Blew it
We wouldn’t be in this situation at all had the Democratic party not arrogantly and disastrously pinned its 2016 election hopes on a terribly flawed candidate, Hillary Clinton. Set aside Trump’s malevolently brilliant campaign. Set aside the Republican’s successful efforts, abetted by the Supreme Court’s overturning of the 2013 Voting Rights Act, to limit or prevent voter turnout by traditional Democratic minorities in 14 states. Set aside Comey’s last-minute email blunder. Even set aside Russian interference in our elections in support of Trump – especially in the key battleground states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan where narrow victories gave Trump his electoral college victory — in spite of losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, 46% to Clinton’s 48%. None of that should have mattered.
I’m convinced that the critical issue was that the Democratic party’s swing to the extreme left and focus on social justice totally ignored its historic roots−the American worker. What used to be America’s core – it’s thriving middle class and productive working class – are now struggling to survive economically, living paycheck to paycheck, without the money in the bank to protect themselves against even a small financial setback like major illness or the loss of a job. What the working and middle classes needed from the Democrats was a practical, visionary, creative plan to rebuild the American economy in a globally-integrated, technology-driven, post-industrial world. What they got was a candidate who scorned the struggling working class as “deplorables,” and whose platform was: “Elect me. It’s my turn.”
A Failed Congress
What we have now is a Congress dominated by extremists on both sides pitching competing “non-solutions” – 18th Century Capitalism, and its opposing 19th Century counter-reaction, Socialism. Neither of them work in today’s world. The current Republican version of Capitalism no longer safeguards the right of each individual to set his own goals and pursue his own happiness. The current Democratic version of Socialism continues to insist on providing financial security for all Americans without regard for their ability to productively contribute to the economy that makes that support economically possible.
Small wonder that the approval rating for Congress now is 11%. Neither party, dominated on both sides of the aisle by extremists in the pay of corporate and special interest lobbyists and mega-wealthy donors, is getting the job done. More important, a paralyzed Congress is incapable of functioning in its constitutionally-mandated role of safeguarding the public against excessive misuse of power by the President.
Make Congress “Great” Again
We need a new Congress, starting this November, one based not on what’s “right” for either party but rather on what’s best for the country as a whole. We need a Congress committed to being what they used to be – a deliberative body − before the 1994 Newt Gingrich Revolution turned Congress into a money-driven win-lose battle ground between “good” and “evil.” The disastrous result: a legislative body where compromise and negotiation are signs of weakness and where one’s sense of moral self-righteousness demonizes opponents.
Actively working to remove senators and representatives who are in it for themselves and their narrow ideologies, and in the pocket of special interests.
Actively supporting candidates who declare their commitment to:
- Fostering a peaceful, productive society, ensuring America’s safety against its enemies, providing for the general well-being and the blessing of liberty for ALL Americans, as the Constitution requires them to do.
- Reclaiming the independence of Congress as a separate branch of the U.S. government, providing a check and balance against a president’s misuse of power through its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent.
- Working collaboratively both within their party caucuses and across the aisle with members of the other party to find real, sustainable solutions to critical core problems that benefit the majority of Americans, not just the people who voted for them.
- Restoring the power of truth, based on verifiable facts, as the foundation for political and legislative action.