Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Ten Percent Solution

I'm a little busy these days, so I'm cobbling together today's post from a couple of sources. But I think they fit together nicely. Judge for yourself.

Congress Sinks To An All-Time Low
With the government shut down over a bitter partisan battle over the new health care law, the approval rating for Congress is plummeting to historic lows ... just 10% of Americans say they approve of the job Congress is doing, an all-time low in a CNN poll.
There are around 300 million or so people in this country. That means approximately 30 million of our fellow Americans think congress is doing a good job.

Who are these cretins?
If you actually think Congress is doing a good job, something is terribly awry in your life. People in your family need to stage an immediate intervention.

...If you do know people who actually believe Congress is doing a good job, please watch over them carefully. These are the type of people that lead to warning labels on products like bleach that state "Do not drink" and on blow dryers that read: "For external use only."
It's not enough to identify a problem, though. Like I tell my kids, "Don't curse the darkness. Light a candle."
Their response? Sighs, eye rolls, and a weary "Yes, Dad..."

But, dear readers, I can't hear your sighs or see your eyes roll. So you'll have to indulge me while I answer my own unasked, but implied, question.
Some say we should impeach or recall Congress. Well, you can't. The Constitution only provides one procedure to remove members of Congress. Want to guess who decides on when that happens? Yup, it's Congress.
We all know that congress flat out refuses to expel its members, even when they're guilty of egregious behavior. Don't believe that? Just google Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, and ethics.
Only five members have been expelled in the history of the House ... Since 1789, the Senate has expelled only 15 of its members - and 14 of them had been charged with support of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
 That trend continues through today.
Can we realistically hope that since the congressional approval rating is so low that there will be a big house cleaning in the 2014 midterm elections on its own? Unlikely.

Even in 2012, when Congress was riding "high" with an abysmal 18% approval rating, did we see many members of Congress booted? Nope. In fact, 90% of the members of Congress who sought re-election in 2012 won.
There's a depressing symmetry in those statistics. 10% disapproval rating, 90% re-election rate. As the folks around here say, "¿Por qué?"
The reality is that Congressional districts have been crafted (aka gerrymandered) by state legislatures in an often grotesque fashion, rendering a large number of congressional seats uncompetitive. Consequently, congressional reps have the freedom to be more unbearable and less compromising than ever before.

So what else can we do? Some call for term limits -- which I think is a great idea -- although you never know if the same politicians would just be voted in again. And to implement that, we would have to amend the U.S. Constitution. There are two procedures to do that: Congress starts the process by passing a resolution in support of the proposition with a two-thirds vote. Ain't gonna happen.

The other method is by way of a Constitutional Convention called by two-thirds of the state legislatures. That is a possibility if a large grassroots movement emerged, but it's challenging. Not one of the 27 amendments to our Constitution were enacted by this procedure.

The easiest way is to effect change is to pledge to collectively put aside partisan politics and vote only for candidates in the 2014 primaries and general election who run on a platform of going to Congress to work in a bipartisan manner for our common good. It's time we send home those people who would want the world to burn because it helps them get on TV and furthers their own political ambitions.
That's great advice. It's also very unlikely to occur. Still, as my father used to say, "If enough people beat their heads against a brick wall it will eventually fall over.

If we can only get that unhappy 90% to turn into head-bangers, we might have a chance...


Steve D said...

'If you actually think Congress is doing a good job, something is terribly awry in your life.'

Compared to the president, they're doing a great job - it's all relative!

Steve D said...

Hey, they shut down the government - at least they got THAT right!

Never, ever vote for anyone with an R or a D after their name (or any party for that matter) - or jump in front of a speeding train. That would be a good start.

CenTexTim said...

Steve, you're right about the job performance of congress v. the prez - no contest!

And I'm with you 100% regarding your second comment as well.