Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We're "raising" a spoiled brat Congress

WIth the election fast approaching, I have really thought about voting and what makes this particular election so fractious. The people who don't like Obama, really hate him and are basically stomaching candidate Romney just so they can get rid of the current president. It reminds me a lot of how I and many of my friends and family thought about the last president Bush. We just knew the country was going down the toilet with Bush in power, and see: the country actually was circling the toilet, i.e. the great recession began. However, Republicans think the same thing about Obama. 

From my perspective, and not just mine mind you, the Republican house has been especially obstructive since Obama took office; not allowing Obama to get his agenda across to the public.  However, it is his job to find a way to get legislation passed that he is in favor of.  It doesn't matter how hard it is.  But I think the job of governance has become a lot harder because of Republicans, but not in way that many of you may think.  And it is not only Republicans who have benefitted from this or created it. What is it? Gerrymandering of voting districts.  Originally, I was for a certain amount of gerrymandering because it allowed historically oppressed or under-represented ethnic groups to be elected so that the governing body looked more like the population at large.  Now, I think it's destroying our country.  

Gerrymandering has allowed for republican districts to stay reliably Republican, and vise versa for the Democrats.  This has made it so that you can have an Allen West or Michelle Bachmann saying all sorts of wacky things like there are socialists/communists in the congress or that we need to have hearings about the loyalty of people in the government who are of Arabic descent. They didn't just start "getting retarded" after having a vaccination. Since voting districts are reliably one party, the elected official doesn't have to appeal to any other strain of thought, thereby electing representatives that can go into government proudly saying that they will not reach consensus with anyone who doesn't think as they do. 

It's like the congress has forgotten the rules of the playground. You know, the ones that say play fair and when you make up games, everyone has to participate in the rule making process and come to an agreement how the game will be played and then follow the rules that you made up?  Isn't that a novel idea? We EXPECT children to learn to work together and get mad at them when they don't. Parents and teachers know that children will always leave the unpopular or un-athletic kid out and we call that a character defecit to be trained out of children.  We then force all kids to be involved in the game.  At a playdate or a party, we enforce that everyone must have a say and kids must work together to have fun.

Gerrymandering means that no one has to get along. It rewards extreme behavior.  It penalizes humans learned behavior of consensus building.  It limits the efficacy one's individual vote has during an election.  It allows for only winning, no loosing; safety with limited responsibility.  We punish children with timeouts, loss of privileges, extra homework or chores for this type of behavior. We tell teachers that they have to create lessons based around cooperation. We have our children in sports to teach them cooperative competition.  We, the electorate need to start paying attention because we're raising a spoiled brat of a congress, and no one likes that kid…their parents suck….

Here's part of an article from The Atlantic that explains part of the issue. I suggest one read the entire article.

[Former Tennessee congressman John]Tanner says that redistricting’s impact has evolved over time, from simply creating safe seats for incumbents to creating rigid conservative and liberal districts, wherein the primary contests are a race to the extremes and the general elections are preordained. “When the [final] election [outcome] is [determined] in the party primary—which now it is, in all but less than 100 of the 435 seats—then a member comes [to Washington] politically crippled,” the retired congressman told me. “Look, everyone knows we have a structural deficit, and the only way out of it is to raise revenues and cut entitlements. No one who’s reasonable thinks otherwise. But what happens? The Democrats look over their left shoulder, and if someone suggests cutting a single clerk out of the Department of Agriculture, they go crazy. Republicans look over their right shoulder, and if someone proposes raising taxes on Donald Trump’s income by $10, they say it’ll be the end of the world. So these poor members come to Washington paralyzed, unable to do what they all know must be done to keep the country from going adrift, for fear that they’ll get primaried. 
“It’s imposed a parliamentary model on a representative system,” Tanner went on. “It makes sense for Democrats to vote one way and Republicans to vote another in a parliamentary system. It’s irrational in a representative form of government. So what that’s done is two things. First, it’s made it virtually impossible to compromise. And second, as we’ve seen in this past decade, it’s damn near abolished the ability and responsibility of Congress to hold the executive branch of the same party accountable. The Bush years, we were appropriating $100 billion at a time for the Iraq War with no hearings, for fear that [those would] embarrass the administration. Hell yeah, that’s due to redistricting! The Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration became part of the same team. We’re totally abdicating our responsibility of checks and balances.

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