It’s time for a change in Washington

The US Capitol Building. Photo by Alana Melvin

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Let’s face it. Congress sucks. This isn’t a controversial opinion. According to Gallup, just 20% of Americans approve of the job the U.S. Congress is doing. To me, this seems accurate. Former president Donald Trump talked about draining the swamp on the campaign trail, and regardless of the fact that Trump is the swamp, his rhetoric here was correct. The U.S. Congress is full of industry stooges who faithfully serve their corporate donors, or sometimes they cut out the middleman, and send in pure corporate slime to fill seats in Congress. Examples of this corporate slime would be Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who has some questions to answer about Harry Potter’s parents if you ask me. On a serious note, Scott is a criminal who committed fraud against the Medicare system, and he should be in jail, not in the Senate.  

Republicans in Congress just suck. They’re hateful towards minorities and faithfully serve corporate interests. They want to strip people with uteruses of bodily autonomy. They claim to support the constitution, that is, unless it’s about mixing “church” and state. I say “church” in quotes, because Republicans do not believe in the message of Jesus Christ. They do not believe in making the world a better place, they do not love thy neighbor and they repeatedly spit on the message of Christ by forking over more and more tax dollars to the rich, privatizing social services and hating minorities. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, commanded his followers to sell their possessions and give to the poor, stood by the outcasts of society and said that “It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.”  

Democrats aren’t much better. It often seems that they want to lose. They could get rid of the filibuster and pass legislation, but they refuse to, even knowing that Republicans will not work with them in a bipartisan way. They refuse to discipline Democrats who throw a wrench in the agenda such as former Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweets and tweets about what we ought to do and should really give some of his good ideas to someone who could do something about them, like the Senate Majority Leader.  

The US Capitol Building. Photo by Alana Melvin

 On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks endlessly about how much she wants the Republican Party to be strong, and how she and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) claim to care about abortion rights, and then campaign for Representative Henry Cuellar, (D-TX) the last anti-choice Democrat left in Congress. Pelosi also refused repeatedly to support banning members of Congress from betting on the stock market.  

By the way, isn’t it interesting that members of Congress routinely perform better on the stock market than the average American? It’s probably a coincidence. Actually, 60 members of Congress are in violation of laws preventing insider trading. These members include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Susie Lee (D-NV), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). Pelosi, who is not on this list and not technically in violation of the law, also engages in insider trading. This behavior needs to be banned immediately. Members of Congress cannot represent us and their personal financial interests at the same time.  

And honestly, where are the progressives? House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) folded on the Build Back Better Act and allowed Democrats to decouple the Bipartisan Infrastructure Funding from the important social spending bill. As I’ve said before, only six members of Congress stood strong. Six out of 95. That is a problem. The Progressive Caucus is undisciplined, poorly managed and weak. Progressives need to stand strong against attacks from the media and their colleagues. And it’s better to lose and stand by your principles than give up some of your principles so you can get re-elected.  

At the end of the day though, it’s not about individuals. The systems of Congress are messed up. Regardless of how good your intentions are coming in, you either get beaten down and become part of the establishment, or you’re openly despised by the people you work with. When Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) went against Jayapal’s wishes and voted no on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill decoupled from Build Back Better, they received hate, derision and anger even from many in their own caucus.  We should try to make Congress suck less, but Congress isn’t going to save us until and unless we reform and/or abolish many of the fundamental structures of our government. 

In order to make change, we need to continue to elect progressives, as well as going outside of the electoral system.