There is a specific problem with our Republic (for the umpteenth time – we are NOT a democracy), and that is leadership. I’m not specifically targeting the current administration, although that would be fairly easy, but rather our government as a whole. I’ve written in this space before about congressional abrogation of power, voter apathy being largely to blame for our current governmental woes (going back at least 25 years), and the undue power of the Supreme Court granted due to activism and the unwillingness of Congress to do its job.
The particular problem facing our nation at the current is one that may not have an answer other than to elect people who are willing to lead rather than respond. The problem itself is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the federal government by the population and because of that misunderstanding, politicians have adopted a respond method of governing rather than a lead method. This has severe consequences both fiscally as well as legislatively, and should this problem not be addressed by the voters themselves, the nation as a whole will continue to exhibit the same symptoms that plagued the Roman Empire and many other republics, eventually spelled their doom.
An unfortunate truth is Congresspeople are consumed with getting re-elected more than governing. The vast majority of a House member’s time is spent fundraising for the next election moreso than actually doing the work of a house member – crafting legislation, voting on measures or most of all, meeting with constituents. Generally speaking, a House incumbent will need to raise roughly $10,000 a week from the day he/she is elected. To further illustrate this point, Congress gets Monday and Friday off to fundraise. Saturday, Sunday, and half of Tuesday is off, along with the entire month of August and some federal holidays. That leaves the other half of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for constituent work. Let that sink in…
What that points to, besides limited time in the office (on average, about 9 days a month), is Congresspeople becoming beholden to a variety of “money sources” such as lobbyists, special interests, corporate donations, among others. Because the cost of running a campaign is so high and the short turnaround for members of the House (recall your civics class – every 2 years they’re up for re-election – 6 for Senators), Congressional members are always on the prowl for money.
To make matters worse, the perks of being a member are many as is the influence, an intoxicating combination. Many members who enter congressional service may enter with the best intentions, but over time, the allure and the lure of all that Congress has to offer become too much with many giving themselves over to the temptations. Power is addictive.
Add to that the very public persona so many must maintain to keep their name omnipresent, and the result is people become absorbed into “the life”, often forgetting why they went there in the first place. This does not mean to imply allbecome part of Washington, but many do, and that is their undoing.
Policy, then, becomes a means to retain their seat rather than doing what’s in the best interests of the nation which is part of the reason many members of Congress are unwilling to take a public stand on anything controversial – it might cost them an election. The other side of it is they become wish-washy, telling constituents what they want to hear during election years, again, so as to maintain office rather than make the tough decisions needed to govern the nation properly.
One example is President Biden’s insistence on increasing federal spending in order to control inflation. This has never worked historically; on the contrary said spending has made matters worse by flooding the system with more federal dollars, the only cause of inflation. Like FDR and LBJ before him, or Richard Nixon who instituted disastrous price controls which the Biden administration is considering as well, doing these things will plunge the nation further into recession, exacerbating monetary problems which could be solved if only history would be consulted. But, Mr. Biden wants to be seen as being proactive – respond policy rather than lead policy, especially during an election year.
This also explains why so many current members, including the President himself, are backing policies that favor their “base” or what they perceive to be their voting bloc rather than taking strong policy positions that might improve the economic condition of the nation (increasing natural gas production being one of them).
What we get as citizens are elected officials more concerned with keeping their jobs than doing their jobs. We fall, all too often, for the re-election pitch rather than what was actually done by said legislator. We demand they take action, and in doing so, extend the tentacles of government further than the Constitution outlined; and they are all too willing to comply for not only does such compliance satiate the public’s desire to see some kind of action, but it feeds the government beast, a beast with a lust for the expansion of its power.
Our Constitution was designed to limit said power, but the pandemic showed how quickly the populace is willing to cede it’s sovereignty to the federal and state governments, those bodies welcoming that secession with open arms.
This election cycle, we would do well to consider voting policy regardless of party or politician. Doing anything less is to continue the cycle we’re in.