By Crosley Jones | WASHINGTON
If you read my editorial from last week, titled Congress is Really Bad at its Job, you will know why I hate our current, and most immediate, Congress. Lack of accountability, along with extreme political partisanship, has gridlocked our national legislature and prevented needed legislation from getting through to the President’s desk. If you did read that editorial, you will also know that at the end of it, I gave two solutions that I believed would allow our legislature, the legislature of, by, and for the people, to once again serve the people who they were elected to represent and serve. Those two solutions were campaign finance reform and Congressional term limits. We need to keep our Senators and Representatives inline, keep them working for us, and for no one else, especially not Wall Street tycoons or multi-million and billion dollar companies.
The first thing that we need to do is to reform our current campaign finance system. As I’m sure most of you know, in 2010, the United States Supreme Court heard the case Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission, which was a lawsuit trying to determine whether or not that business should be treated as “people” when donating to political campaigns, mainly for presidential campaigns. The Court ruled that businesses are to be treated as people when donating to political campaigns and that if they weren’t, then that would be a violation of the First Amendment. Later in 2014, the Supreme Court also ruled that, like in the case of Citizens United, that the cap on the amount an individual or a business could donate would also be a violation of the First Amendment. That sounds good right, that people shouldn’t be limited on how much they donate to a campaign or cause they believe in. Yeah, it does, but where it gets dangerous is when businesses are treated as people, and when multi-million and billion dollar companies start donating millions to congressional campaigns, it means that those companies take precedence over the people of the district that the person is running for. It means that the interests of that business will be the interests of that Congressman or Senator. It is not a good system when a business is more influential than you, the voter, are. It is insane that some of our citizens are fine with letting these businesses fund our elected representatives. But unfortunately, that is just one of the two most important fixes to be made in Congress.
The second fix that we need to make is to make sure that our Congressmen do not make careers out of public service. There are many cases in our history that Congressmen and Senators have made their so-called “public service for the nation” careers to grow their influence and grow their wealth. And example of this type of career is that of former Senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond. Thurmond was a Senator from 1954 to 2003. He was a Senator for nearly 50 years, the longest serving Senator in United States history. He served up until he was 100 years old, which is pretty insane that people trusted him enough, even at the ripe old age of 100, to make the right decision. Were they not concerned that his mental functions may be failing? Were they not concerned that he could possibly make a wrong decision, affecting them directly or indirectly? No. They trusted him because he was a career politician. He made a career out of his “public service” and got rich because of it. Another example of this is the case of Michigan Representative John Conyers, who has been serving in the House of Representatives since 1965. He has also made a career out of his “public service” and gotten fairly wealthy from it too. Congressional careers have ruined our legislature, prolonged the partisanship, and made our country come to a stand still. We need to impose term limits on our Congressmen in order to make sure that they are actually running to serve the public, and not to get rich from it.
We need reforms for Congress. It’s a must. I’ve laid out these solutions and I hope that you will agree with them because our country will continue to falter if we don’t get our Congress working again.