Fixing Congress, or: Vote the bums out

This is where I usually start harassing you, dear reader, in an attempt to get out the vote. If just six more of you had come out last election, I might still be a member of the Town Council and enjoy franking privileges, the town car, the private office and assistant, the Council swimming pool and skeet shooting range …

Well. I got a key to the municipal building, anyway.

The town is in good hands without me, but the same can’t be said of Washington, D.C. Much as we love to criticize the President, Congress has been outrageously, stunningly awful. Part of this is due to partisan politics; part is due to a remarkable lack of common sense, which many times causes partisan politics. We call for moderation and compromise, which is fine – but if someone on one side wants to do the worst possible thing for the country, should that second person give in for the sake of compromise? Sometimes people are just plain wrong, which I’ll grant you doesn’t solve the problem of gridlock.

You the voter need to vote, because the fewer people who vote, the less Congressmen worry about voters. The less they worry about voters, the more they can throw money at what few voters there are and not worry about anything else. There is no money, so that’s a problem.

You the voter, if you don’t like how things are going in Congress, need to go to the polls and vote the incumbents out. All of them. Republican, Democrat, Martian, whatever, vote them out each and every time until they get the idea and work for the people again. If you don’t, we’ll continue to be stuck with people nobody likes, doing things nobody likes, with results nobody likes.

Did you know that the Senate is required by law to pass a budget by April 15 every single year? The problem is, they haven’t. For over three years. By definition, each and every lawmaker is a lawbreaker. Budget resolutions can pass with a simple majority, so filibusters are no excuse.

And yet, despite having no budget, the government manages to keep on spending money. As of the moment I write this, the outstanding public debt is $16,198,734,633,000, give or take a few bucks.

(I just checked again, before sending this in. The amount is now $16,200,034,782.837.)

That’s sixteen trillion dollars. TRILLION.

Congress does nothing about this outrage, and why? Because we do nothing about them. And why? Because too many of the people who bother to vote do it on the basis of, “The rest of Congress is horrible, but my congressman managed to bring in a bunch of money to our district!”

Money that doesn’t exist. It just isn’t there. It’s a phantom, and the longer we refuse to accept that, the worse the chickens are going to bite us when they come home to roost. Or maybe they’ll lay eggs on us, whatever.

We’re complacent in this, not only by not kicking them out but by actually approving the status quo. How many times have you heard, “Well, the program to save pregnant albino Appalachian tree frogs only costs $17 million. That’s hardly a drop in the bucket of the federal budget.”

Good point. Now, what happens when we add up all the other $17 million dollar payouts? Suddenly we’ve got a budget.

Seventeen million dollars is nothing? Not even worth talking about? Have we come to this? Let me do some quick calculations: Okay, at my present pay rate it would take me 4,857 years to make 17 million bucks. How is that nothing?

In the immortal words of that drunken guy on Independence Day, “We have to stop them!” (He also said “Up yours!” which might also be appropriate.)

Okay, I went off on a monetary tangent. My point is that the power of the President is out of control, largely because one of the other branches of government has ceded much of their power to him (or her – this is not a one-time problem).

How do-nothing is our current Congress? What are they doing to stop our race toward the fiscal cliff, deal with various crises here and in other countries, and generally do their job? Well, on October 9th, a lawmaker gaveled the Senate into session … then gaveled it out, 25 seconds later. It was done just to make things official – most of our elected officials were off running for another election.

So, what do we do?

Well, we’re the employers of Congress. What do you do if your employee doesn’t show up for work, takes long breaks when he does, doesn’t accomplish the job when he is there, and to top it all off takes your money and spends it recklessly?

Oh, I don’t know … fire them?

Vote, people. It’s our only chance to show them who’s supposed to be in charge, and we have to start somewhere.

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