I know, political posts do not win friends. But this is my blog, so I do what I like here.
Because of this government shutdown, people have either been blaming the Republicans or dissing congress, saying how ridiculous they are, what a terrible job they are doing, how they should all be fired, we need term limits, yada, yada, yada. And I nod in agreement. Yeah! Congress is ridiculous!
And yet.... I read this article the other day about who to blame the shutdown on. (Blaming again, surprise, surprise.) But it made some interesting points. Apparently, the House of Representatives creates the bills dictating how funds should be spent. This is simply the way this country was constructed in the constitution. So the House of Representatives (Republican controlled) voted funds for government operation, paying debts, interest, etc, but denied funding for Obamacare. Republicans say "A large portion of Americans hate this law, it is tangling everything up, jeopardizing the recovery, it needs to be pushed back or gotten rid of entirely. Stupid, illogical Democrats." The Senate (Democrat controlled) didn't like it, so they voted it down. Democrats say "Obamacare is the law of the land! It has to be funded. Republicans are trying to strong arm this already voted in, judiciary approved law off the books. Nasty, poor-hating Republicans."
And we Americans, watch all this, see the government grinding to a halt and say "Our congress has failed us! They are screwing up our country! We hate them!" The reality of it is, however, that this is congress, working as it should--as the founding fathers stipulated. They wanted the government to be de-centralized, so no one person, party, or branch would have absolute control. Having the House deny funds is a way to maintain balance in Washington. Of course, the founding fathers were hoping decisions could be made without resorting to these measures, but they understood that Congress would not always (or ever) be perfect.
From the way people talk, one would think us poor little Americans had voted sweet, innocent kittens into office that suddenly turned into anacondas, consuming our young. We are guilty of everything that is happening in Washington today. Congress is voted in by us. The people. We choose them. We choose how long each congressman's term should be by voting them in there or turning them out to pasture. Congress is a direct reflection of America and Americans today. If we hate it, it is time for some careful self-examination. How many people complaining about needing change and fresh air in Washington have been guilty of voting in the same old buzzard because his or her name fell on the right side of the aisle? (Guilty!) Who has been able to believe so firmly in needing change that they are willing to take a chance on a new person regardless of party?
This country was created as a representative Republic. We aren't a democracy on a national level. In fact, there is hardly any part of the country, even on a local level that is not a representative Republic. This was based on the premise that the average Joe wouldn't know what was best for him, so he would leave the details to a person he trusted (congressman) and let them make the best decision for the nation. That way, we could just get on with living our free, American, life. In these days of modern communication, we all know what is happening in Washington. We now know details of politics in real time, something 19th century Americans would have never been able to know. In a way, we have all become our own politicians. We feel we know enough details to make decisions for our good. We despise congress because we want to be in there making the decisions. We know we would make things better and different.
That optimism is not misplaced. We can make things better. No, Congress is not ever going to directly reflect the will of the people after every little poll. It isn't supposed to. As Americans, we don't have the option of direct democracy. Not having a direct democracy might also be a good thing--a reason we are still a world power, 237 years after we took the first, foolhardy step of declaring our independence from a dictator who gave us no voice in our governance.
There is much to be changed in Washington. Corruption, greed, and apathy are a direct threat to our ability to continue as a nation. And we can change it. Don't take the easy way out by blaming everything on Congress or the other party. Realize it is our fault. We created the current congress by voting the bad apples back in. As Bill Cosby used to say to his kids (or was it his father?) "I brought you into this world, I can take you back out." We can do that to Congress. We have that power.
This is America, people. Our only limitation is the depth of our apathy.