Dec 15, 2006
It actually may be too early to tell, but are you getting the vibe that Congress is going to betray you -- again?
The Congress -- both the House and the Senate -- are seen as honest and trustworthy by an astonishingly low 14-and-16%, respectively, by most Americans according to a recent poll. The converse of this, of course, is that 84-86% of most Americans don't trust their Congress.
A term like that just ended at least partially explains that gap; for Congress routinely sells its collective soul to the lobbyists and corporate powers-that-be.
Only these wealthy forces could explain the actions and inactions of Congress in its most recent term; complete servility to the military-industrial-complex; the bankruptcy bill; their unbridled hostility to a minimum wage -- you name it.
If you could afford their services -- cool; if you were a regular Joe (or Joanna), working-class, or -- heavens forfend! -- poor -- forget it.
The Congress, in violation of the Constitution, ceded its power to the President, and the executive has made a complete mess of every power it was granted.
The mid-term elections, thought by many to have been a partial remedy of this disaster, was predicated upon the wide public will to get out of Iraq.
The new congress was not yet in their seats, and already there are whispers in the air of sending more troops to Iraq!
The march towards betrayal of the public will may have already begun.
As journalist Richard Swift explained in his book, The No-Nonsense Guide to Democracy (Toronto, Ontario: New Internationalist Publ, Ltd./Between the Lines, 2002), today's political parties strive to actually be less and less representative:
"Such parties run the ideological spectrum from Right to Left (although here differences between them are certainly narrowing). ... Such parties have loose ideological commitments and use a vaguely populist rhetoric (often of the Left) while campaigning. They typically contain a number of powerful factions and interest groups each of which stakes a claim on policy and economic awards once the party is in power ...
"Under most present circumstances these 'representatives' are only answerable to us in a very general sense. Once they have been elected any number of factors may weigh more heavily for them than the wishes of their constituents; their own views, Party discipline, personal ambition or the influence of powerful lobbies. Voters by-and-large do not get to hold them accountable until the next general election. In the meantime they form a virtual dictatorship -- particularly if they are part of a majority government." [pp. 102-3]
For millions of people, especially those who voted for Democrats, there is the expectation that this new class (or new majority) would headline an Iraq withdrawal.
Now, it looks less so.
As the new congressional majority forms, lobbyists are bellying up to the bar to make new and lucrative deals -- and with money comes influence.
Americans may learn that, in politics, faces may change, and parties may swap -- but the same game goes on.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal