Email this page to a friend

On Congress
Mark A. Goldman                                                                  Revised:   8/10/09

Members of the US Congress, as a class, now constitute the most failed institution in government.  

Each member applies for a well paying job that pays an excellent salary with superb benefits.  Once hired each takes an oath promising to faithfully serve the interests of his or her constituents by honoring, protecting, and defending the Constitution... which is to say, by maintaining integrity in every government function for the benefit of ordinary citizens and their country. 

But once they are hired, which is to say, elected, these same members of Congress blatantly turn around and sell their loyalty to corporations, to their Party, or to other private special interest groups who offer them or threaten them with the highest amount or most convenient form of bribe or blackmail, usually related to campaign contributions or political party access to information and influence.   

The money or influence they receive buys favors for these undeserving and corrupt entities at the expense of ordinary citizens and at the expense of integrity in government… and to add insult to injury they then use the graft they receive to hoodwink their constituents into rehiring them again and again. 

Not only does this activity end up misallocating resources, it takes an inordinate amount of time and keeps members of Congress from doing useful, thoughtful, courageous, or honest work.

It is a system of unparalleled dishonesty and corruption that has all but destroyed the Constitution, our economy, the future well-being, and indeed the hopes and dreams of our progeny... and perhaps even the aspirations of all mankind for generations to come.  This villainy, cowardice, and/or stupidity, perpetuated by most members of Congress, is only matched by the ignorance, lethargy, and foolishness of the people who keep reelecting them. 

It is a sorry commentary on our society and our educational system, that the honor of being given the opportunity to serve one's country with distinction that we offer those we elect, (hoping that they might actually turn out to be our best and brightest), is squandered so willingly by them.

Of course this blanket description of Congress is not universal.  There are still a few members who aspire to fulfill their duty, but it appears to this observer, that those who do are a diminishing breed.  

These representatives send our children off to war, expecting them to serve, bleed, and die with courage as they face bombs and bullets, while they themselves seem unable to muster enough courage to end or distance themselves from the corrupt culture that permeates their workplace as they are called upon to do the People's business where they face very little risk to life or limb.

One must conclude that members of Congress consider themselves, their institution and their constituents worthy of contempt.  Our representatives have apparently decided that they can do without the personal satisfaction of knowing that they've done a job well;  and they seem content to do without the self-respect that comes with being able to maintain one's integrity in the face of, admittedly, significant temptation.  What can one say?

Apparently this is the way it will remain until we as citizens value our own freedom and our own need for self respect.  I suppose if we keep voting for people who are set on betraying themselves and us, we deserve what we get.



Suggestions concerning what every Congressperson could do that they are not now doing...

1.  Insist that members of present and former administrations be investigated, and if appropriate, prosecuted, for the high crimes and misdemeanors they commit.  As long as some people are above the law, the Constitution is a damaged and uninspiring commodity.  The Constitution has been desecrated and it needs to be restored.

2.  Insist that the public be made aware of illegitimate systems and procedures in place in Congress. It doesn't work that some members of Congress are given more access to information, more power to influence legislation, or more power to  set budgets or determine foreign policy than other members.  All members have the same responsibility to constituents and the country.  What we have now undermines our democracy.  It doesn't make sense that some members have higher security clearance than others.  Many thousands of people have top security clearance and yet some of our elected lawmakers who have oversight responsibility are denied access to information they need to do their jobs.  Who has the right to say that some representatives are more qualified than others to know what their government is up to as they do the People's business.  That only means that some communities are better represented than others and that some representatives have more power than others because of some secret and hidden processes determined by individuals who are unaccountable and un-elected by the people.  It doesn't make sense in a legitimate democracy for this to continue.   

3.  Insist that there be an appropriate accounting for monies spent by all government agencies and departments.  Every government agency ought to be subject to audit using the most stringent accounting procedures possible. How the People's money is spent must not be a secret, save for a very limited amount dealing with legitimate national security purposes.

4.  Insist that an independent truth commission be formed to fully bring to light the crimes and improper conduct of our troops, government officials, and private contractors particularly as they relate to the instigation and implementation of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. 

5.  Insist that a permanent independent study group or department of government be formed to report to the People as to what government processes are damaging our republic and what steps might be taken to correct them.  Government itself ought to have a formal process by which it is engaged in self awareness, the process and results of which, to be broadcast and published for all to see and hear. Members of our government are answerable to us.  We need to know what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what needs to be done to put our house in order.  They seem to be totally incapable of doing it themselves.

6.  Work diligently to promote and ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to have it incorporated into US law.  

On Citizenship

Simple, not easy

Return to Commentaries