Years ago I was at a cocktail party on Martha's Vineyard tossing back a white wine with former and now late Massachusetts Congressman Gerry Studds. He had recently quit the U.S. House of Representatives, so I asked him why he made that choice. He said: "I was in Congress for 24 years and that was enough. I entered when I was 35 and wanted to change the world. I finally realized the world did not want to be changed. And when you're in Washington, you feel [as though] you might as well be on another planet."
Today's Congress does not work. Its approval rating is the lowest ever, hovering around 10 percent. Say what you will about President Obama, but how can this guy serve as a functioning chief of state when our congressional reps are just eating each other's lunch? The GOP has pulled every trick and tactic to bring Obama down. The main one is an unconscionable work stoppage. Gridlock. Posturing. Polarization. Boys Club.
Once elected, all they want to do is keep the job because it's the best one in America. Look at the benefits: big salary, big staff, perks and swag bags galore, best healthcare, paid speeches, paid travel and even insider trading. Sure they finally voted that benefit down but only after they benefited from it. Check out the chair of the House finance committee, Spencer Bachus, the Alabama Republican now being investigated for enriching himself with insider trading just as our economy was tanking.
As reported in The Washington Post:
The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative agency, opened its probe late last year after focusing on numerous suspicious trades on Bachus's annual financial disclosure forms.... OCE investigators have notified Bachus that he is under investigation and that they have found probable cause to believe insider-trading violations have occurred. The case is the first of its kind involving a member of Congress. It comes at a time of intense public scrutiny of congressional ethics, with the House passing legislation Thursday to tighten rules against insider trading by lawmakers. The impetus for the legislation... came from a 60 Minutes report and a book mentioning Bachus's trades, Throw Them All Out, by Peter Schweizer.
And now we have the freshly fallen Snowe. Maine Senator Olympia Snow knows exactly how Gerry Studds felt. She wants out. She's tired of being a Republican Yankee in King Limbaugh's Court.
Why does the media play this up as a "shocking decision"? Why would any non-venal or non-vitriolic person continue to serve in what has turned into the OK Corral? Snowe described what is or is not going on in congress as "political domination as opposed to governance... people are just stunned and shocked by the level of hostility and discourse, not to mention the paralysis that has overwhelmed the political process."
Stunned and shocked? Why are they then voting for more paralysis by supporting GOP clowns who come tumbling out of the car called "economy" as it drives toward the cliff?
Snowe is not alone. One by one, those with a conscience are beginning to take their leave. Some choose not to run for re-election, some choose not to run for that vacated seat. This is not a Congress. This is an Egress.
Speaking of Peter Schweizer's book -- it is time to throw them all out. They are not doing the job we elected them to do. We need a whole new governing body in D.C. Why not level the playing field and just pick them all out of the phone books? How bad can they be? Any worse than what we have now?
How about we pick them and then give them a test to see if at least they know something about this country and how it should be governed according to those crumpled blueprints left to us by those overwhelmed forefathers? First we'd take them through a crash course in civics. We can start by asking them if they know what civics means. We immediately disqualify anyone who answers: "More than one Honda." We would also eliminate anyone who thinks the separation of church and state can only be accomplished with a Virginia-made vaginal probe. Next we ask them to show what they know about American history, the Constitution, about our forms of government and how they work. Basic stuff.
Questions like: Do you know a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy wrote the pledge of allegiance? Do you know everybody said it for 62 years before they decided to add "under God" to it? Do you know why they did that? A Cold War gesture to distinguish the U.S. from the Soviet Union. So no atheist commie could ever swear allegiance to our country. He'd be caught lying right in front of the flag. The hand over his heart would turn DayGlo red and start throbbing for all to see!
Final question: Does "Better dead than red" mean "I won't surrender to Republicans"?