Jb's Blog

views on current events

Respect for Congress?

with 3 comments

Most Americans have a rather low level of respect for our politicians in Congress. And that’s no surprise. Much of what has fueled this lack of respect is a feeling that those we have sent to Washington to represent us are simply ignoring us, instead.

Here is a good example of why we have that feeling. A good indication that the feeling is well founded.

Some time back, I sent a message to my Congressman and my two Senators in Washington. I submitted my message from the submission forms on their own websites, thinking that would be the most reliable way of actually being heard (use the system they have in place, for that purpose). Not long after that, I received responses, and while these generally appeared to be more “form letter” responses than ones which specifically addressed the issues I brought up, I at least felt that my voice had been heard.

The message I sent dealt with a number of issues I am concerned with, but the key points I addressed were 1). don’t vote on any bill you haven’t read, and 2). stop spending money we simply don’t have. Yesterday, I received another Email message from one of my Senators, Senator Bob Corker. His message began with “Thank you for taking the time to contact my office about S. 688, the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.” His message went on to tell me how he has “cosponsored three pieces of legislation aimed at helping those with breast cancer,” and “the information you’ve provided in your letter will certainly help my staff and me more effectively look into this issue.” He also explained that he has sent a request to “the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services asking that they provide adequate funds to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).” Uhh.. more money we don’t have.

Not once in my message did I mention S. 688 (the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act), or Cancer research or treatment, or government funding for it. While government spending on Cancer treatment and research may very well be a good thing, the bottom line is that I didn’t mention it. Yet here is his message thanking me for contacting him about it. This response certainly does not engender a feeling that my voice has been heard. It also does not increase my level of respect for Congress. What a bunch of of yahoos these guys are, this current group we have in Washington.

Senator Corker is obviously not listening to me. Not only did he not take note of what I did write him about, but it appears that he has used the submission of my message as an excuse to add my name under a category which he feels needs more public support, even though I never once mentioned (what must apparently be) a pet project of his (since he has cosponsored three bills on it, and requested additional funding for it). It’s no wonder that so many Americans are feeling the need to show up at Town Hall Meetings and yell in order for their voice to be heard.

What this experience does is to move me even more to the side of feeling that we just need to vote out the incumbents. Unfortunately, Senator Corker won’t be up for reelection until 2012. And I even agree with his stance on a number of issues, but then there’s this question of not respecting the People.

I sincerely hope that one good outcome of the massive public dissatisfaction with the performance of our current crop of elected representatives will be that in the next election, we will have people running who are sensitive to the fact that the People need to be heard and respected. Give me a candidate who respects the People, and who can genuinely demonstrate a willingness and ability to work across Party lines to get things done, and I’ll vote for that guy, regardless of where he/she stands on individual issues.


Written by jb

September 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm

3 Responses

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  1. 1) You might indeed have an opportunity to vote for or against Senator Corker in 2012, as I saw his name recently listed as a possible presidential candidate for the Republican party next time around.

    2) I don’t believe anything excuses the behavior of the fist-clenchers and shouters at the recent Town Hall meetings. Ignorance and unconsciousness come close to an excuse but not close enough to actually excuse.


    September 6, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    • @ Michael: I would agree with you that their techniques may admittedly be less than ideal. However, I think it is a gross mistake (also being made by many Dem politicians, by the way) to ascribe either “ignorance” or “unconsciousness” to the actions of outraged citizens at today’s Town Hall Meetings. Given the gravity of the issues facing us which they are addressing, plus their frustration over the attempts to ignore anyone not willing to go along with the agenda of the administration, I think you’ve got to cut them some slack in the methods they feel driven to.


      September 7, 2009 at 7:42 am

  2. What do “Dem politicians” have to do with this? I’m the one ascribing their behavior to ignorance or unconsciousness. What does the behavior of these “yellers” have to do with politics and political dialog? What can explain their behavior in the political dialog? Passionate desparation (this is putting the best face on it)? Bad manners? Childishness? Doesn’t their behavior echo that of those who might’ve once yelled something like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . “crucify him!”? (And this example is not to liken anybody in this picture to Christ but these yellers to those yellers.) To me, their behavior is only understandable in the context of an ideological stance that is based on fear: they seem to be in the “fight” mode of the animalistic “fight-or-flight” response to something identified as a threat. Certainly they might view the subject of the debate (and the persons with whom they’re debating) as a threat, but to respond in such a way in a public forum suggests a lack of control over their emotions and their conscious minds, which suggests, in turn, a lack of education (not necessarily book-learning). Allowing the uneducated voice into the public sphere was one of the Founders’ great misgivings about democracy. These “yellers” seem to me to be the kinds of people Jefferson and his contemporaries believed could be the downfall of the American experiment.

    jb, my friend, I write this with a wry smile. I seem so serious, but I don’t believe that any of this ultimately makes much of a difference in the cosmic view of things. Such debates–all debates and the debaters–are or will become, in the ultimate sweep of history, “Soundless as dots–on a Disc of Snow–” (Emily Dickinson).


    September 7, 2009 at 8:53 am

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