Broken beyond repair

The current House of Representatives is broken beyond repair. This past week a small group of Republicans tried their best to oust the relatively new Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson. They believed he committed the ultimate political sin.

What sin is that you might ask? It was the same sin the former ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy committed. You see, they both worked across party lines trying to get meaningful legislation passed, and for that, McCarthy lost his job and Johnson came close to losing his. I may be wrong, but I thought we elect representatives to go to Washington to do the country’s work, the people’s work, not solely their party work.

I am ashamed of the House of Representatives, commonly referred to as “The People’s House.” This might be the time to remind Congress that it doesn’t belong to the Republicans, nor does it belong to the Democrats. It belongs to us and this childish partisan crap — yes, I said crap — must end.

Nowhere in the Constitution are parties mentioned. In fact, many of our Founding Fathers feared if parties were formed it would lead to permanent disunity in the country. George Washington’s farewell address to Congress goes to great lengths warning them of the dangers of parties, or factions as they were referred to back then. Washington said, “it will agitate the community with ill-founded jealousness and false alarms, kindle the animosity of one part against the other, foments occasional riots and insurrection.” Old George was a wise man.

Thomas Jefferson said, “If I could not go to heaven, but with a party, I would not go there at all.” And John Adams said of parties, “… is to be the dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” And others shared their concerns that parties could destroy this fragile new republic.

Why then, have we gone against the wisdom of the Founders? What they knew and warned us about, we have ignored, and now find ourselves exactly in the spot they told us not to go.

So, I am left with this question. Why do we have parties, why do we have only two major parties, and why do we feel so compelled to join one at all? Why not three parties, or maybe be four? So-called liberals have a political home in the Democrat party. So-called conservatives have theirs in the Republican party. But polls continually show when asked what party we identify with, 27% identify with the Democrats, 27% identify with the Republicans, and 43% identify as independent. Where exactly is the political home for the majority of moderate independent voters, who have no party doing their work and are forced to decide between the Big Two?

Lee Drutman, a renowned political scientist and senior fellow at New America, says it best in his book, “Breaking The Two-party Doom Loop,” writing, “A fully-divided two-party system is completely unworkable when the partisan divide is over the character of national identity, as it is today. This rises the stakes impossibly high and makes compromise impossible. It poses an existential threat to the future of American democracy.” He goes on to explain how multiparty (more than two), can be more fluid and flexible, built around compromise, just as the Framers of the American Constitution intended.

Clearly this current Congress cannot or will not mend the political fences that have not only divide the House, but have infected the people too. When representatives are threatened with losing their position or being kicked off committees because they chose to pass legislation by working together, I say again — broken beyond repair. In this day and age, when we have things broken beyond repair, we toss them to the curb and get a new one to replace it.

I would begin by seating the House of Representatives not on one side of the aisle or the other, but seating them alphabetically like many of our elementary school teachers did when we were children. Maybe these childish and selfish behaviors would decrease a little if they were seated next to someone they need to get to know a little better. Yes, let’s treat them like the childish little imps they are.

Folks, we need to do something. That’s what elections are for. It’s time we demand country above party and urge our representatives to act of the premise of right or wrong, not right or left. Time to throw out the broken and bring in the new, a new House of Representatives that works for us. One that we can once again proudly call the “People’s House.”

What do you think of Congress’s job performance? Let me know at gregawtry@awtry.com

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