Abuse of Democracy Within US Congress

Remembering that religious right factions took over the US Republican Party in 1996, and that Republican dogmatists now (2015) control both houses of Congress, perhaps we should review their method of “progress.” The nation had thrust upon it in 2000–through dubious means which happened to be decided by five Republican-Catholic leaning Justices of the Supreme Court–confirming presidency upon a self-admitted born again believer who then quickly lied the nation into a needless and costly war, and who relished torturing captives taken in that drummed up war. After his devious eight year term in office was over the Republicans in Congress spent the next six years deliberately obstructing the bulk of law making which could have advanced the bulk of US citizens. Indeed, the 2014 Congress turned in the worst record of representation of the citizens in the nation’s history. With over half of Congress also being long-stocked by millionaires, perhaps we should look into past member’s track records.

There are 535 members of the United States Congress, members who are responsible for establishing the nation’s laws which are supposed to guarantee equal justice for all citizens, and which should also apply equally to the citizens’ representatives. There have always been freeloaders among the “membership,” and experts at double talk, addicts of pretentiousness, and those who do business under the table and/or behind closed doors. There have been untold episodes of conflicts of interest, endless self-promotions through a feeding trough called “ear marks,” childish tantrums of spite called “filibusters,” and even outright indifference for the nation’s Constitution. All of this can be and has been indulged in while taking a healthy salary (paid by taxpayers), self-granted government paid medical coverage, generous expense accounts, and even a self-granted pension plan (paid from tax payers’ wallets) after they exit their stint of “service”—even if only after one term. Speak of entitlements!

In other words, politics, like religion, attracts people with huge ego problems and who are divinely untroubled with any heavy personal scruples. Perhaps we should not be surprised, therefore, at these disquieting statistics of Congressional members (a sample is from 2011).

* Three members were incarcerated for assault
* Seven members were arrested for fraud
* Eight were arrested for shoplifting
* Fourteen were arrested on drug-related charges
* Twenty-one were defendants in lawsuits
* Seventy-one could not get a credit card because of bad credit
* Eighty-four had been arrested for drunk driving
* One hundred and seventeen were involved, either directly or indirectly, in bankrupting at least two businesses
* It is unclear how many were/are adulterers and/or brothel clients
* Too many in office continue to pretend that they have superior religious guidance for their material double dealings

The Founding Fathers of the United States well-knew that human nature is easily tempted. For this reason they sought to devise safeguards so every citizen of the new nation might have a better chance in the pursuit of happiness and freedom of spirit. Governing power, therefore, was not to rest in one person’s hands as in kingdoms, dictatorships or theocracies. Therefore three branches of government were specified to act as the hallowed trinity of democracy; the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. For the most part, that system has well-served a broader spectrum of people for the bulk of the nation’s 239 year history.

As religious faction have pushed more and more into the inner circles of government since 1996 (when religionists took over the Republican Party), emphasis has shifted from loyalty to a golden democracy into a furious pursuit of democratic gold for power seekers. In the process neither genuine democracy nor spiritual integrity have been enhanced. The founders of the US were altruistic, and they believed that serving in any of the three branches of government was to be taken on as an honor, not as a self-serving career move.

But from at least the late 1990s the thrust of those who have wormed their way into government positions from the Right have vigorously chopped at the very roots of democracy. And the carnival which this brand of politicians have made of politics is shown in the fact that they proved incapable of any real solutions to national problems. Instead they kept public attention muddied with faith system obsessions such as a woman’s right to choose, people’s’ lifestyles, and even who they should love. When their grab for power and materiality has been successful they shackled democratic principles in attempts to do such things as take away workers’ rights, deny senior the protection which the seniors had paid into for years, have sought to downgrade education standards, actually gave personhood rights to corporations, stolen from the poor and siphoned it to the rich, reduced environmental standards, and just sat on their hands and did nothing about gun shows where anyone could and can buy quantities of guns without any background checks.

The point of this mini review is that there is a desperate need for Congressional Reform, and that has been summed up in the proposed 28th Amendment to the US Constitution which covers the following eight considerations:

1) Term limits for Congress members consisting of twelve years only should be established, which would, however, include one of three possible options; A) two six-year Senate terms; B) six two-year House terms; C) one six-year Senate term and three two-year House terms.

2) There should be neither Tenure nor Pension provisions to Congress members for having held the honor of their office. Every Congressman receives a salary, usually with an expense account; and they continue to get paid for that past honor even after leaving office, which certainly dishonors the concept of true democracy. Indeed, a member of Congress can retire with the same yearly pay after only one term! Is that self-granted entitlement available anywhere else in the workplace?

3) Equally dishonoring of true democratic principles is the special favor Congress members bestowed upon themselves which frees “members” from participating in Social Security which is relied upon by the very people the “members” are supposed to serve. Democratic principles as conceived by the Founding Fathers require that Congress participates with the American people; that means that properly all funds which have been amassed for Congressional retirement payouts (from taxes) should always have been placed in the Social Security system just as it is for the private citizens whom they serve. That Congressional graft scheme must be corrected.

4) If Congress members want a retirement plan they may and should do as the rest of the American citizens are obliged to do and purchase that security cushion on their own. That self-granted Congressional retirement plan is but another graft scheme.

5) What average citizen has the ability to give themselves a pay raise? Why does Congress have the undemocratic clout to vote themselves a pay raise? Rightfully, Congressional pay should rise only by the lower of CPI–or by three percent. That’s what they impose on the elderly–but they have reneged even on that raise for those depending on Social Security.

6) Person elected as representatives of the people do not represent the people when they grant themselves special privileges. Another case in point, Congress enjoys a special health care system, and have excluded themselves from the Healthcare Reform which everyday citizens have to rely on. Properly the Congressional “members” should participate in the very same health care system as all other American citizens. Elected representatives are neither moral nor true to the democratic principles upon which the nation was founded by implying that they are a privileged class; they are servants of the people.

7) The legislative branch of government determines the laws of the land: that office does not mean that those in-office are above the law. Congressional members must comply equally by each and every law which Congress has imposed upon the American people. (As one little example which members slipped into law, did you know that Congressional members are exempt from being prosecuted for sexual harassment?)

8) All of these listed points considered here make it clear that the proper thing to do for true democratic governing is to void all past and present self-serving contracts of Congressmen for Congressmen, and this should be made effective immediately. The above mentioned seven points of undemocratic indulgences were self-contracted by Congress “members”–certainly their self-granted entitlements are not for the betterment of private citizens. It is crucial that American citizens stand up and confront their elected “officials” about these self-granted privileges the lawmakers enacted for themselves. These self-serving entitlements are in direct opposition to the laws they have imposed upon the rest of the nation’s citizens.

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