Where are the leaders? Where are the people of vision, independent thought, and bold ideas? I am not talking about the office of the President, whomever occupies it rather I am speaking of those members of our Congress who fall in line like so many lemmings led to the edge of the cliff. They follow their leader, be they of the Democrat or Republican Party and do as instructed with what appears to be little independent thought other than what the party leaders prescribe. Should they step out of line and dare to vote against their respective leaders, well, there will be no soup for them.
We do not have a democratic republic, but rather an oligarchy that is made up of the office of the President, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority leader. Of the three, the Speaker and the Majority Leader dictate to those below them the course that they will take through their vote. The President leads his party and by default, has significant say, even significant sway with the leadership as well. Should any not tow the “company line”, they will be ostracized, relegated to the Siberian outpost of poor committee assignments or worse yet, no committee at all. This, in turn, will damage their re-election prospects, the holy grail, it seems, for all that occupy the halls of public service. To be re-elected is to become one step closer to being re-elected in perpetuity, securing a job with rather significant benefits, lucrative speaking engagements and cushy lobbiest jobs, for life.
So, the lemmings gather around the leaders as the penguins of the Antarctic crush into each other to secure their warmth during the ungodly cold of the Antarctic winter. They press against the Speaker and Majority leader hoping that some of their warmth will be absorbed in the manner of high visibility positions. T get that warmth, they must fall in line, never daring to vote their conscience, even should their best instincts tell them the leader is wrong. There is no debate, not any done seriously. What little dissension there is seems to be for show, a vaudeville act in one scene, allowed to occur in order to give the impression of impartiality or independence to enhance a re-election in a closely contested district, or to feign bi-partisanship. A little air time, a few well chosen words to make it seem the official is “independent”, but when the camera is off, they vote silently, sometimes never even taking the floor, but doing so from their office or assigning a lackey to push the appropriate button. There, the deal is done, the devil has been paid and now the representative waits to collect what is owed to them for party loyalty. A close look at Illinois politics is all the example one needs to see this allegation in action.
From my vantage point, there are but precious few who are willing to stand their ground and speak loudly against the power of the cabal in Washington. The venerable AOC, whose largely ill-informed passion provokes her to speak without thinking in many instances. She is, however, true to herself and oftentimes charges ahead as the Light Brigade once did, headlong into the breech. Recklessness is her calling card, and even should one disagree with her reasoning, which is often easy to do, one must respect that she will call out the cabal from time to time, even receiving with a smile arrows to her chest. Sorry, I have to admire that. Thus far, she’s been locked out of the Biden camp. I wonder why?
Kirsten Sinema, the mercurial senator from Arizona, is also one to stand on her principles, not willing to tow the party/Chuck Schumer line. She is a woman of independent thought in many instances, although when promising to vote against Senator Schumer for minority leader, reneged and did vote for him. She has shown, despite that event, she is willing to step outside the defined party lines. She voted against the Green New Deal, and even voted with other pro-Israel democrats. Not quite a maverick, but certainly willing to step outside the partisan box.
On the other side of the aisle, Trey Gowdy spoke his mind before leaving, and currently, Mitt Romney is a rather outspoken critic of President Trump, willing to go his own way, whatever his motivations, as well as suffering the slings and arrows of doing so. There are more on both sides, surely, but they need the patronage, therefore, they stay silent.
This is nothing new, and honestly, it’s been around for as long as, well, politics. The Roman senate suffered the same cabal problem, although there, if a senator stepped out of line and went against the emperor, an execution or assassination was in the offing. We don’t experience any of that now….
Democratic state representative Vernon Jones was essentially forced from his post and resigned yesterday for endorsing President Trump. His stance was generated by the prison reform act signed by the President, that act being the overriding reason for his endorsement. He was pilloried by his party, so much so that effective yesterday, he resigned, saying. “I’m sick and tired of me and my family being attacked and harassed by the Democratic Party for putting my country before my party…I endorsed the white guy who let blacks out of jail and they endorsed the white guy (Joe Biden) who put blacks in jail.”
Whether one agrees with his point or not, the idea here is that former Georgia representative Vernon Jones spoke his mind and acted independently…and paid the price for his independent thought. Step out of line, especially during this period, and there will be hell to pay.
Here’s my point. We should expect our political representatives, whether they are senators or congressmen to adhere to the general direction of the party, if we’re going to have political parties (which most of the founders were against). That’s part of the reason they were elected. However, we should also expect that they have an independent mindset as well, voting what is best for the nation first, even if that requires breaking ranks, without fear of reprisal. That is leadership, that is clear thinking, that is what this republic was supposed to be, and decidedly what we don’t have. Neither the Speaker of the House or the Senate Majority Leader should have so much power that they can issue a command and their respective underlings vote as they’re directed. That is not a republic, that is an oligarchy, and absolutely not what was intended.
Whose fault is this anyway? Readers of my pieces know where I’m going to put the blame. Squarely on the shoulders of the voting populace. Once again, we are the source of all political power in this nation as currently constituted. We are the ones that do not impose term limits through our vote, rather re-electing our representatives to virtually unlimited terms, rarely holding their feet to the fire. We are the ones that allow this to continue. We are to blame. Party loyalty and name recognition has made us blind, and in the end, We The People pay the price.
As President George Washington said in his 1796 farewell address to Congress, “…the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise People to discourage and restrain it.”
If only we would listen.