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How To Build A Better Congress

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The Republican Party has clearly sold its soul to moneyed interests (Wall Street, banks, and large corporations). Their agenda is clear and they have achieved a degree of unity that would be admirable if it were in the service of more noble aims.

Republicans have been working for over thirty years now to roll back or repeal the social programs put in place by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. I remember watching President Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, let the cat out of the bag, while testifying on TV before a Congressional committee in the early 1980s. He said the plan was to cut taxes (always popular with voters) and increase military spending until the national debt grew to a level that made it impossible to fund social programs. They are frighteningly close to achieving their goal.

They have been aided and abetted in their efforts by some members of the Democratic Party. Although the support of moneyed interests for Democratic candidates is noticeably weaker than it is for Republicans, the plutocrats like to hedge their bets. And many Democratic candidates take their legalized bribes because they know they need to raise huge sums of money to buy the TV ads that have become necessary to win elections.

Although Democrats must give lip service to legislation that appeals to their base, many of them are quite willing to work quietly behind the scenes to see that legislation opposed by moneyed interests never comes to the floor for a vote.

Our government has already moved too far towards becoming a plutocracy, serving the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the common interest. However, one of the great things about our form of government is that, for better or worse, no battle is ever won and done.

As we see with Republican efforts to scale back or do away with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the minimum wage, collective bargaining rights, and most recently The Affordable Care Act, any legislation that is passed can also be repealed. And the failure to pass legislation in one session of Congress does not preclude its passage in the next.

Sooner or later we may elect a Congress that will address our ongoing problems (most notably, unemployment, climate change, and rising health care costs) in a serious manner. It would be better to elect such a Congress sooner, rather than later, but doing so will not be easy. The K Street lobbyists work 24/7 to influence Congress on behalf of moneyed interests. We need to find, support, and elect representatives who can withstand the pressure.

If we were to embrace truth in advertising within the political realm, the Republican Party would be called “The Corporate Party.” The Democrats, at present, would be “Corporate Lite.” If we, the people want a party that represents the common interest and a Congress worthy of our approval, we need to force the Democratic Party to be true to its supporters.

This will require a three step process. First, give the Democrats solid majorities in both houses of Congress. Secondly, identify (and continue to support) the office holders who adhere to a centrist platform that addresses the problems we face in a pragmatic manner. And finally, replace those who don’t by finding and supporting honest and virtuous candidates who will uphold their constitutional duty to “promote the general welfare.”

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About Winston Apple

Winston Apple is the author of "Edutopia: A Manifesto for the Reform of Public Education." He is a former teacher. He has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1990). He is also a singer-songwriter and recording artist.
  • John Lake

    Here’s an interesting, informative and concise article, dealing with the unendurable situation that confronts the nation today. Unendurable is key because it is the corporate hope in the military budget and all that that suggests which may bring about our downfall. Eisenhower pointed out the profitability of war, and Bush took it to inhuman limits. We see a certain cold gleam in the practiced shortsightedness of Mitt and the naivety of Paul Ryan that warns us of more such coming.

  • Congress seems to be willing to do just about everything except the one thing required to fix
    the social programs permanently. That thing is taxing junk food to achieve better health
    outcomes and provide more money for the Treasury. Legalizing pot is another action that
    would remove thousands of nuisance cases from the already burdened criminal justice system.
    The tax revenues on pot legalization would provide even more billions for the health care systems.
    Even conservatives; such as, William Buckley and former Secretary of State Schultz agree that
    de-criminalizing pot is the way to go.

  • Igor

    The republican controlled congress does not want to fix any financial problems in social programs for fear of supporting socialism. They hate Social Security because it works. They do NOT want anyone to feel secure because that limits their ability to control people with fear.

    A huge financial crisis that enabled them to cash in Social Security and take the money for themselves would suit their purposes well. Therefore it is foolish to think that any republican will work to solve our financial problems.

  • Clavos El Buey

    They do NOT want anyone to feel secure because that limits their ability to control people with fear.

    You’re right; and the real irony is they don’t realize how well the Democrats are already controlling them with government handouts.

  • Igor

    @4-the syllogism is not evident, please explain.

  • zingzing

    you people are a bunch of grumps. and you say the same things over and over again as if it’s new wisdom. don’t you ever get tired of being repetitive, morose bores?

    you’re as bad as the conspiracy theorists, except your conspiracies are stupidly simple, while theirs are hopelessly complex. and you’re made sad and/or angry by something that really has absolutely no affect upon your life. what a waste of time.

    politics is a gigantic, retarded peice of shit.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Well, somebody got out on the wrong side of the bed this morning…

  • Winston Apple

    Well zingzing, If I thought that “politics is a gigantic, retarded peice (sic) of shit,” I’d find something better to do with my time than to read and comment on opinion pieces on a site dedicated to politics. But that’s just me. I enjoy a good, civil exchange of opinions about political issues.

  • Zingzing

    Winston, when you’ve seen this particular wheel (blogcritics) turn for as long as I have, you’ll get bugged about it now and again as well. I enjoy a good, civil exchange as well, but I’m bored as fuck of the state of political discourse in this country, which is anything but civil or intelligent or focused on real issues, and I’m bored as fuck of the same people spouting the same simplistic “opinions” around here. It’s all this “fear” and “control” talk that got my goat this time. Do any of you feel frightened? Do you feel controlled by the gov’t? I fuckin doubt it. Get real. You don’t know what fear or control are. (and no, Winston, that isn’t directed at you.)

    Sometimes I just get frustrated, and that’s all that was, so you can turn your high horse around and keep trotting the circle and see if you don’t spout something similar if you see the same damn shit over and over again.

    And don’t sic me. Because you’re going to make a mistake and I’ll be merciless. or you can just be the perfect typist. Good luck with that.

  • Zingzing

    And yeah, doc… But that one had been building for a while. Many days of keeping my mouth shut.

  • I’m encouraged by your remarks, zing of zings.

    There’s hope for you yet!

  • But then again, I see that you’re overreacting in the opposite direction.

    Try to re-watch the episodes of the X-files!

  • Winston Apple

    Zingzing (#9) I didn’t mean to offend you by the use of (sic). I am certainly guilty of the occasional typo. But when one is quoting and the quote contains a typo or misspelling, I believe it is appropriate to use a (sic). I know things are getting more lax with regard to capitalization, typos, etc., but I do my best to maintain traditional standards for such matters.

  • Zingzing

    If you sic someone in an Internet comment, 90% of the time you’re mocking the typo, you think they can’t spell the word or you’re trying to score cheap points. I’ll accept that you were playing by different rules and land in the 10% that are not trying to do one of those things.

    By all means, maintain your standards in your articles. Just don’t go trying to corral the comments section. It’s nothing but a pain and will make you nothing but a pain. Such things also cause derails, but that’s going to happen anyway.

    I’m still putting you on my sic list. So watch your words. Peace.