If the American public needs any further evidence that the US Congress is unable to function as an operating legislative branch of the federal government in the ‘pursuit of happiness’ or to ‘promote the general welfare,’ look no further than Congress’s most recent public disapproval rating of 69%. This is of course nothing new as Congress has been in ill repute with the American public for decades—and no one seems to know what to do about it.
To be fair to the lackluster, do-nothing group of flunkies who rake in the Benjamins and perks that most Americans can only dream about, Congress actually hit its highest ever disapproval rating of 84% in September 2011 and earned an 85% disapproval in November, 2013, during Barack Obama’s Hope and Change years which produced neither hope nor change. During that time period, the Dems controlled the Senate while the Repub’s controlled the House, so voters might conclude that a partisan split is not favorable for the People Programs.
Yet during the 111th Congress when, as a result of Obama’s 2008 election, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, the disapproval rating hovered between 63%-74% and during the 115th Congress when Trump’s coattails brought in Republican control of both houses, the disapproval rating varied between 69%-70%. Some cockeyed optimist might consider those numbers an improvement.
During their time in power the Dems produced the Affordable Care Act rather than expand Medicare which was a no-brainer except for the insurance industry. At minimum, the Dems could have expanded Medicare to include vision and dental coverage that they themselves receive but all 535 of them have consistently proven to be less than thoughtful employees.
And if the Republican’s accomplished anything notable during the 115th, it has been lost to the recycling bin of history. After all the gnashing of teeth about Obamacare, the fact is that the R’s were at a complete loss to propose an acceptable health care alternative speaks volumes as to their level of compassion for those responsible for their election.
Most recently, as an example of congressional incompetence is its perpetual patronage for Israel when 79 Senators and 303 House members signed a letter to President Trump that was initiated and orchestrated by AIPAC. Citing ‘overwhelming bipartisan majority,’ the intent was to pressure the American Congress and its president into continuing Israel’s unquenchable lust for military conquest and global predominance in the Middle East. Heavy-handed coercions are nothing new for AIPAC’s Zionist bullies. It can be assumed that all signatories of the letter are beneficiaries of Israel’s campaign largesse.
The letter was the result of a report that over 600 rockets had been launched from the Gaza Strip with 150 intercepted by the US-provided Iron Dome missile defense system while the majority landed in open areas. The Jerusalem Post reported that, in retaliation, the Israeli Air Force struck over 280 targets in Gaza and that the IDF had begun targeted assassinations against Hamas militants.
While acting as an unregistered agent for a foreign government, AIPAC’s clear intent in its three-page letter is to direct US efforts spreading war throughout the entire Middle East. The fact that Israel ‘owns’ the Congress is not new news. It is no secret that AIPAC hooks have been deeply embedded in Congress for decades by virtue of its generous campaign donations and members of Congress who hold dual citizenships and that Israel is not required to register as agents of a foreign country. The fact that AIPAC shrewdly avoided a Federal Election Commission decision to require compliance with US election law is further evidence of an untenable situation when people believe they are above the law, that they are superior beings and ‘entitled’ to special treatment.
Citing ‘grave insecurity,” the letter lays out “recommended steps to advance our regional priorities” for US intervention regarding Syria, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah. The letter’s marching orders are blatant for the US to step up and provide the manpower, the necessary armaments and equipment at US cost as if Israel as the right to demand a continuance of US forces to fight Israel’s battles that they themselves refuse to directly engage.
When has the Congress ever acted, repetitively, as one entity, in signing a foreign country’s letter of support for war and followed its dictates for US participation in that foreign war? The most current letter was not the first or only time Congress has acquiesced its power to Israel. Some might call that treasonous.
While Israel decries the existence and spread of ISIS, Al Qaeda and their affiliates, the Congress plays the pretend game that they are unaware of Israel’s history in 2002 creating Hamas which evolved from the Muslim Brotherhood, as an alternative to divide a strong and secular PLO or that the US had a relationship with bin Laden and al Qaeda beginning in the 1970s.
The fact is that no presidential candidate has yet picked up on the reality that the old structure and form and institutions of government are no longer viable as they pretend to avoid the obvious, that all will be hunky-dory with a sort of spring house cleaning in 2020.
Four of the Senate Democrats running for president signed the AIPAC letter while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) did not. Signatories were Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (NY), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn) and Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif).
On the House side, three of the Democratic presidential contenders who signed the letter are Rep Eric Swalwell (D-Calif), Rep Seth Moulton (D-Mass) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D -Oh). Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also a Presidential candidate and combat veteran, is running on a no interventionist war plank, did not sign the letter.
The real issue is that Congress continues to allow itself to be disrespected as Israel’s lapdog as it betrays its own constituents in favor of acquiescing US foreign policy to Israel. Since neither party has shown the mojo to govern, the unpleasant fact is that the Congress itself, inept, irresponsible and corrupt, is in the throes of a full blown collapse of its own making for its failure to perform as democratically elected representatives committed to the people.
As there is a fundamental transformation underway with a political realignment occurring, the role of Congress, which has neither the ability nor the integrity to function, should be a 2020 campaign issue as they have earned the right to become a part-time body with fewer staff and less perks.
Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist for Friends of the Earth and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31.