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article imageOp-Ed: The dysfunctional state of the U.S. Congress

By Nancy Houser     Nov 4, 2011 in Politics
The success of Congress is mirrored through the actions of American citizens and how smoothly the country operates. With this in mind, lack of teamwork has shown the 112th Congress as a dysfunctional dismal failure.
The inability of Congress to intellectually compromise has ripped the United States apart, not only politically and economically but on numerous social levels. This involves a House that should deal with people on a local level, and a Senate that should deal with issues of the nation as a whole...not war with one another for power and control.
The book "Congress for Dummies" highlights the relationship originally meant between the House and Senate. “George Washington was having breakfast with Thomas Jefferson after Jefferson had returned from France where he’s served as minister. Jefferson had been at the Constitutional Convention and asked Washington why he’d agreed to a two-house system including a Senate. Washington observed Jefferson pouring hot tea from his cup into a saucer before drinking it. “Why did you pour your tea into that saucer?” he asked. “To cool it,” answered Jefferson. “Just so. We pour the House legislation into the Senatorial saucer to cool it,” said Washington. (Congress for Dummies, by David Silverberg, page 950)
Depiction by John Trumbull of Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief.
Depiction by John Trumbull of Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief.
Wikipedia / George Washington
Of course, Jefferson's saucer has long been tossed away. Unfortunately, so has the political ideology originally begun by George Washington. Greed and corporate power have taken over control of the United States, made worse by a declining quality of Congress leaders and members without the morals of our historical leaders. The 112th Congress is in a position of chronic failure justly made by its own doing.
Robert Burney once wrote, “ If a culture is based on emotional dishonesty, with role models that are dishonest emotionally, then that culture is also emotionally dysfunctional, because the people of that society are set up to be emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional in getting their emotional needs met.” (Joy 2)
Wisconsin legalizes guns, makes carrying cameras a crime
One example of political dysfunctional issues and bad role models is the recent Tuesday arrest in Wisconsin of 18 people for using cameras in the Wisconsin State Capitol building, while Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker was preparing a bill to allow guns to be legally carried in the Wisconsin State Capitol.
America s love of guns
America's love of guns
Included in the arrest was Matt Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, who had gone to the capitol to dispute the arrests of protestors who took photos or videos, or even carried signs to demonstrate against the governor’s Assembly ban---while allowing state employees to carry guns at work.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Assembly’s organization committee approved the gun policy Thursday, November 3, 2011, on a party-line vote of 5-3. At the same time, the committee amended the proposed language to disallow any open carrying of weapons such as rifles. The other chamber allowed lawmakers and others to have guns on the floor, but not visitors in the public gallery.
"To those state employees who choose not to carry concealed, I ask that you respect the legal rights of those who do in a lawful and responsible manner."
Republicans Launch Surprise Attack on Race-Based Scholarships
Another big show of Wisconsin government's dysfunctional state occurred on the late evening of November 1, 2011, with Amendment 2 to AB 142 in Wisconsin ending in the Republican use of their famous filibuster.
The Talent Incentive Grant program is a state funding scholarship program that helps approximately 4,300 needy students attend college with the help of grants of $1,800 per child, based on race and ethnicity. These are somebody's children, a small portion of the 99% of the country's struggling populations that need help to go to school and advance themselves.
The original amendment was to “raise the income caps of families of students eligible for the grant to 4.5 times the poverty rate.” However, Republican Caucus leader Joan Ballweg ended up changing the amendment to eliminate the race and ethnicity categories for a student’s eligibility. (Progressive)
A worsening state of reform
In government situations like above, there is no compromise or working for the betterment of the people. Congress has become low in the public’s esteem, regardless whether it involves the House or the Senate, while getting lower by the day due to an inability to get things done for the country or its people. The ineptitude of Congress has brought a worsening state of reform, best seen in citizen unrest and an overall state of unhappiness.
Washington s tomb at Mount Vernon  Virginia
Washington's tomb at Mount Vernon, Virginia
Wikipedia / tomb of George Washington
By reading Kenneth A. Shepsle’s “Dysfunctional Congress,” it is seen that too much has occurred in what was once a respected political icon---sex disgraces, GOP filibusters forcing unnecessary gridlocks, partisan discord on a daily basis, political bias, incumbent protection, a wide practice of earmarking, pork barreling, and the glory of credit-claiming.
The government of the United States was developed to meet the needs of the people, for the betterment of the country. A national feeling of helplessness, frustration, insecurity and anger has evolved from an inept Congress, one that has allowed an unequal discrepancy of income and wealth until the middle class has finally erupted and said, "Enough is enough."
Meanwhile, our public finances are in debt, the credit of the United States has fallen, a jobs bill in Congress is being stopped by the GOP when massive unemployment is rising…destroying the country’s economy, natural disasters are worsening, the United States is deep in debt to China, and jobs are moving overseas. Any public institution is seen as a threat to the American public, as seen in the rapid growth of the Occupy movement.
It may have been worse in the past, but it seems much worse today. And the path ahead is incomprehensible, dependent on a dysfunctional Congress.
"Washington was an outspoken leader in calling for religious liberty and tolerance, and used his prestige as general and president to promote good will among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. He sought to create a national ethos that would enable every American to, in his paraphrase of the Book of Micah,"sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid." In private and in public he strongly rejected any sign of intolerance, prejudice, and "every species of religious persecution", while hoping that "bigotry and superstition" would be overcome by "truth and reason" in the United States." (Wikipedia-Religion)
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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