Crosley Jones | USA
Congress seems to be getting only more and more inactive, unproductive and incompetent, especially in recent years. It seems that partisanship and gridlock have become a normality in Congress, and the victims of this gridlock are the American people, the citizens whose livelihoods depend on the productiveness of their legislators. The members of Congress who we, the people, elect to represent and voice our concerns and issues are not doing their jobs, and are not representing their constituents to the utmost of their ability. A lot of them perpetuate the petty political games of “he said this” or “she said that,” making it nearly impossible for anything to get done. But the one thing that really grinds my gears is the political discourse and animosity that members of Congress hold towards the members of the opposite party. It is always a battle between Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, and it seems that a new battle is always occurring every week over the major issues facing Americans today, and this is damaging our international reputation, causing the public to lose trust and faith in their government, and causing the government to not function to the best of its ability. There are multiple examples of political discord in the Congress, but I am going to focus on 2 main ones that have taken hold of Congress in the past 2 years.
The first example of this discord began in February 2016. As most of you can deduce, I am referencing the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In the Constitution, the President has the power to appoint people to be justices of the Supreme Court, with Senate confirmation. When then President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the vacant seat, Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, refused to even give Garland a hearing. Their main point of contention was that President Obama was not able to appoint a justice in an election year. But that “fact” was negated by the actual fact that the Constitution does not say “the President cannot appoint a Supreme Court Justice in an election year.” In reality, they blocked Obama’s nominee because he was going to be a more liberal justice, contrasting with the Republicans’ conservative ideology and giving the liberal faction a majority on the Court, giving them control of the Court for possible decades. The idiocy of this stand that Senate Republicans took last year was just more of the same political playground fighting that we’ve seen developing over the past few decades.
The blockage of a judicial nominee has also happened before and was started by the Senate Democrats. This time it was in 1992, an election year. Then President George H.W. Bush nominated multiple people to fill vacant appeals court positions around the country, which desperately needed to be filled. Those judges also needed to be confirmed by the Senate, but Senate Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine, filibustered many of the nominees that Bush had sent and left many of the vacant seats open for nearly a year. Their reasoning was the same as today’s Republicans: that the President does not have the power to make these appointments in an election year. The Senate Democrats were waiting for Bill Clinton to come into office so he could appoint more liberal judges, giving them an advantage in the court system of America. The petty political game seems to have been perpetuating itself throughout the past 2-3 decades, and it seems it will keep on going.
The second thing I wanted to discuss is the lack of competence of our members of Congress now. The biggest example of this can be seen in the recent scramble of Republicans to put together a healthcare bill that was not only acceptable for all of their members to agree on but good enough for their constituents actually like. Obamacare was passed back in 2010, 7 years ago. That gave Congressional Republicans 7 years to develop a successful bill that would make sure every aspect was covered. But they didn’t take the massive opportunity that they were handed and instead used those 7 years to complain and campaign on repealing and replacing it. Then, in November of 2016, with the election of Donald Trump and the retaining of Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Congressional Republicans were caught with their pants down, as they scrambled to get a bill together. Multiple bills were written, proposed, and shot down. This cycle has continued to happen in the Senate as of July 30.
I have just laid out two clear reasons proving that Congress is a failure as an institution, and that reform needs to take place. Whether it be campaign finance reform or Congressional term limits, something has to happen soon, or our country is doomed to fail.