Is this the worst Congress ever?

On August 2, the two Republican congressional contenders who wish to dispatch incumbent Representative David Cicilline to the locker room appeared on “Newmakers.” Both gentlemen, Cormack Lynch and Stan Tran, acquitted themselves well. As I listened to their respective thoughtful responses I kept asking myself why either of these men would even want to go to Congress, given the woeful track record in D.C. Both candidates recognize the gridlock in Washington. Yet, their optimism of ending the unrelenting incompetence of Congress sounds like something out of Mary Poppins.
It’s difficult to imagine a more ineffective body of decision-makers than the present Congress of do-nothing sycophants. Before their 5-week vacation they cobbled together a “solution” to the Veterans Affairs mess where former soldiers waited endlessly for appointments (let alone treatment.) As the reader knows, there are so-called Veteran Oversight Committees in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, so it’s a difficult to swallow the absolute befuddlement of the solons over this botched health care delivery system. After all, they were supposed to be the guardians. With all the rhetoric about how each elected official values the members of the armed services it would have been just nice if they did their job rectifying the problems, as opposed to soliciting donations non-stop for their re-election bids.
Other major issues received a bubble gum paste job. Immigration reform is an oxymoron. The fat cats on Capitol Hill allowed the interest on Stafford loans for higher education to rise from 3.86 to 4.66 percent. This inaction came at a time when other interest rates hovered much lower. So much for political patter about how important education is. The country’s transportation issues of crumbling roads and bridges got a thumb-in-the-dike treatment.
As bad as these cronies in Washington are, I suppose I mostly felt a twinge at the idealism exhibited by candidates Tran and Lynch since many folks just don’t care. The United States has one of the lowest voter turn-out rates of any democracy. What is a dilemma in Rhode Island is the fact that the people who do turn out largely vote for the same gang who can’t shoot straight for anybody other than their own self-interest. Voters will tell you at a cocktail party that they think most people elected in Rhode Island are unqualified but yet they do not insist on anything better. Given the apathy it’s no wonder that politicians are hand-picked by the rich, de facto aristocracy or through the influence of political extremists.
So, given voter apathy and the pandering politicians, nothing really changes. Congress can have a favorability rating of 7 percent but it seems that we have gotten what we deserve.
Please understand that I admire the gumption of Messrs. Tran and Lynch. If I am totally honest, I would acknowledge that it is the voter here that has me most worried about the future of this country and the state. How have the citizens’ expectations of what public service should be gotten so low that doing nothing has become a virtue? “First do no harm” has turned into “first do nothing and then do nothing again.” How sad that the body politic is anemic on many levels.


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