By Miles Brown
Jan. 22, 2014
As a college student over winter break, I indulged in many different activities to quell my overwhelming boredom. Besides lying on Facebook about reading for fun and studying German, I have spent a great amount of time watching daytime talk shows. If these talk shows have taught me one thing, it’s that many people watching have a greater grasp at assessing other people’s relationships than they do their own.
While watching these shows, my fervent cries of “gurl, why don’t you see he ain’t no good for you?” led me to a profound realization: That many of the dysfunctional relationships trotted out on these shows contain qualities that could be best used to describe our relationship with politicians in Washington.
Now just follow me here — this isn’t as farfetched or absurd it might seem. There are three pillars of a classic troubled talk show relationship that translate well here: Neglect, Infidelity and Enablement.
First, they’re neglecting our needs as a nation for them to do the things they were sent to Washington for. Instead of working on actual legislation to fix problems, they would rather act as if bipartisanship is a four letter word. Politicians love to spend more time in front of a camera than in front of pieces of paper on a desk, writing legislation. The previous year saw only 57 bills passed in Congress among the 535 members, one of the lowest amounts in the history of Congress. Meanwhile, there still are vitally important issues that have zero chance of passing Congress at all, issues like immigration reform, education reform, gun control legislation, social security reform and literally dozens of others. Also, don’t forget about how embarrassing it was that Congress couldn’t even do the most basic job of passing spending bills to fund the government. They simply refuse take responsibility to come to the table and work together for the things that are impactful to our lives.
Second, if Congress neglecting our needs, then it’s only logical that they’re getting satisfied from somewhere else, right? Yes, Congress is being unfaithful on American citizens with the corporations, and we don’t need Boehner to take a lie detector test to prove it. The corporate influence on Washington far outweighs the influence that the ordinary American citizen has on their elected representative. This influence is seen all over, from the Citizens United case to the amount of former Congressmen that happen to become lobbyists after leaving Capitol Hill. That fact that Congress is hesitant to enact legislation that would take corporate America to task proves that Congressional loyalties no longer lie with ordinary Americans.
Finally, we respond to this no good partner we have in Congress with more donations and votes. The 113th Congress is without question the worst congress ever. We use every excuse imaginable to justify keeping these people in office and yet their approval rating sits at a robust 13 percent. Which makes me wonder: If we disapprove of the job they are doing so much, then why are they still in office? The answer has a lot to do with complacency and a distrust in government that has been embedded in the political rhetoric for decades. What people need to realize though is that we are the government, it is of the people. These career politicians cannot get in and remain in office without us helping them. We need to hold our elected officials accountable and to a higher standard.
If they continue to care more about reelection than they do about legislating, then in taking a cue from the most clichéd talk show audience comment of all time, we as the American voting populace need to drop these zeros and get ourselves some heroes back into congress.
Miles Brown is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’s majoring in political science and history with a certificate in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies. His political stance is best described as classic Progressivism in the vein of Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Croly. His post college plans are, as yet, undecided, but he’ll probably go into public policy research.