Monday, August 06, 2007

Congressional... what?

Before the 2006 elections I warned myself (and my readers) not to be too optimistic about change if the Democrats won one or both houses because, despite their promises of reform and Pelosi’s promise of “draining the swamp” that Washington has become, the Democratic Party has its hand as deep in the pocket of corporate sponsors as does the Republican Party.

Sure enough, not only does Bush continue to rain death and destruction upon Iraq unimpeded, he is still able to issue orders to Congress and have them obeyed.

As the minority party Democrats made no attempt to block passage of the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act or the appointment of Alito or Roberts. As the majority party Democrats whine about Republican obstructionism and lie supine under the demands and transgressions of the worst president in the history of this country.

At the end of last week Bush demanded a bill for warrantless spying and Congress saluted smartly and passed the bill that his political hacks had written for them to pass. There are three schools of thought as to why Congress would commit this travesty.

The most common theory is that the Democratic Party has become spineless, weak and utterly without any trace of courage. Glenn Greenwald, one of my very favorite bloggers, is a proponent of this theory, as he writes in his post today on Unclaimed Territory at Salon. His post from Saturday is even more eloquent, Greenwald at his best.

Second is the theory that suggests that the Democrats believe that it is unnecessary to curb Bush or “take on” the Republicans, since the elections of 2008 are going to put them so firmly into control that they can “fix” everything without having to fight for it. A large part of the electorate seems to go along with this theory, not caring much about what government is doing right now in the fond belief that soon Democrats will take over and everything will be okay.

The third theory is that all of the Democratic promises to change things are lies since the parties are but two faces on the same coin. This theory is espoused by Arthur Silber and spelled out in his Saturday post on Once Upon a Time… I actually don’t follow this blog much, as Silber is a little “dark” for my taste and his discussions tend to be a bit convoluted, but he sometimes does make an interesting point.

My thoughts are, as my thoughts tend to be in my old age, a bit divided. One thing stands out though, and that is that all three theories are a bit nonsensical in that they address “Democrats” as one monolithic entity. I suspect that there are about as many reasons why Democrats do things as there are Democrats, so applying a single theory is probably pointless.

At the heart of the matter, though, I believe the problem lies neither with Republicans or Democrats so much as with our basic electoral system of government. It is broken, and perhaps irretrievably so. Politicians of both parties govern not in the interests of the country or its people, but in their own interest, to assure their own reelection. They have sold out to the corporate sponsors and political machine that provide the money to assure their reelection. Correction of the problem will require that the very people who are benefiting from it create and pass legislation to eliminate it, and that is unlikely in the extreme.

I do know that the problem is not magically going to go away just because we elect a Democrat as president and a bigger Democratic majority in Congress. The 2006 election did not change what we looked for it to change, and neither will the 2008 election, because moneyed interests will still be in control of our government.

So what can we, the people, do about it?

Well, to begin with, vote. Vote knowledgeably and in every election. Too many people do not vote, or they vote strictly by party affiliation, or they vote because they recognize the incumbent’s name on the ballot.

Pay attention to how your Representative and your Senators vote in Washington, and if they are not voting in your best interest and in the best interest of your country, vote them out of office. Know where their campaign funds are coming from, and watch to see if their voting record (or their “earmarks”) favors those contributors. If it does, vote them out of office.

One blogger asked rhetorically, “If you’re angry with Democrats, what do you want to do? Give it back to Republicans?” My response would be, “If I find a Republican whose hand isn’t in the pocket of moneyed interests, yes.”

Congress is doing what they are doing because politicians know that they can piss off the people and still get reelected. If they piss off the “political machine” their access to money will get cut off, so they do what is politically expedient. They know that whoever has the most money wins. It isn't about political party, it's about a process that has been corrupted. The most money wins.

So change that. Quit voting for the one with the most money.

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