What to do about our paralyzed Congress? | Lloyd E. Sheaffer

The U.S. Capitol at night (Image via Flickr Commons)

Stagnant. Impotent. Feckless. These are just a few of the words that come to mind to describe the current US Congress, which has been paralyzed by the ongoing impeachment circus.

Lloyd E. Sheaffer (Capital-Star file)

Don’t get me wrong. I am no fan of the current Narcissist-in-Chief with his boorish behavior and his self-serving conduct. I would applaud seeing him and his unqualified cronies marched out of the White House sooner rather than later.

However, I fear this process is, at this time, futile.

The public testimony offered during the last two weeks provide plenty of support that, a la Shakespeare in Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” [Marcellus, Act I, Scene iv]. In the tragedy, the observation offered by a lowly castle guard means that the political situation in Denmark (Washington, D.C.?) is similar to a fish that rots from head to tail, that nothing is good at top of the political hierarchy.

Although the Democratic controlled House of Representatives seems destined to vote to impeach the head of the rotting fish, his Republican sycophants in the Senate are as likely to judge him guilty as I, who does not play the lottery, am of winning the bazillion-dollar PowerBall Jackpot.

A brief look at the work of Congress during this year shows the crippling effects of the continuing focus upon the corruption in the current administration.

According to govtrack.us, since January 3, 2019, 9,608 bills and resolutions have been introduced in the 116th Congress. Of those nearly ten thousand items, 68 have been enacted into law.

Sixty-eight.

Legiscan.com provides an overview of these enacted laws, offering another look at the nature of Congress’s output: In addition to the several continuing resolutions necessary to keep government funding viable for two or three months at a time, the 116th Congress actions included these:

  • renaming 9 U.S. Post Offices
  • extending the National Flood Insurance Program for two weeks from May 31 to June 13, 2019
  • allowing states to use federal funds to expand public shooting ranges
  • returning a bridge over the Wabash River to a local commission
  • clarifying the pay grade of podiatrists in the Department of Veteran Affairs
  • removing the Secretary of Education as the chair of the National FFA Board of Directors

Wow.

Meanwhile, there are more than 630,000 homeless people in America; of these 67,495 are veterans, and 968,000 veterans live in poverty. Also, federal funding of public education is declining, and our schools are suffering.

According to US News and World Report, “The world’s developed nations are placing a big bet on education investments, wagering that highly educated populaces will be needed to fill tomorrow’s jobs, drive healthy economies and generate enough tax receipts to support government services. Bucking that trend is the United States.”

The report continues, “Overall (U.S.) education spending has been cut quite severely in the last few years,” said Andreas Schleicher, who heads the OECD directorate that issued the report. “That clearly puts constraints on the environment you have for learning.”

If those issues are not troubling enough, CBS News reports that as of November 17, there have been 369 mass shootings in the US this year.

At the same time, America’s infrastructure is crumbling. A CNN report posits a reason for the government’s failure to address these dangerous conditions that affect us all every day.

“President Donald Trump declared at his inauguration, ‘We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.’ At least seven times, his White House has declared that the chosen theme of a week would be infrastructure, but each time the issue has become lost in other events, often generated by the president himself.”

Not only has this impeachment morass hamstrung the legislative process and disabled governmental initiatives, it continues to widen the divisions among our citizens. Local political meetings have too often devolved into shouting matches.

Parish members have left churches over partisan differences. Social service agencies struggle financially to fulfill their missions since governmental support is hog tied by the inaction of elected officials.

It is time for our elected officials to return to working for the good of the citizenry, not for political party alliances.

Let the evidence speak for itself.

To those who are willing to examine the matters with open eyes and minds, the guy at the top has misbehaved and continues to act for the sake of his own outsized ego and greed. Going any further in this particular impeachment process will not lead to any worthwhile outcomes.

Congress should get back to finding solutions to the myriad problems miring down the United States. The political parties should focus upon presenting clear policies and proposals that will rebuild America’s strength as a nation and regain the trust of our allies around the world. We all must encourage others to become active in the electoral process and turn out at the polls for both primary and general elections next year.

Let us all be diligent and thoughtful and informed to make sure we do not continue to be a country enmeshed in corruption and lies and abuse of power.

Let us all strive to make our nation and our government, in Lincoln’s words, “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Our nation is wounded, but we are not defeated or destroyed … yet.

Capital-Star Opinion contributor Lloyd E. Sheaffer, of North Middleton Township, Pa., is a retired English and Humanities teacher, whose work appears monthly. Readers may contact him at [email protected].