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Commentary :: Elections & Legislation

On The House

It's four weeks before the election... Do you know what YOUR Representative has been doing?
The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives is fast approaching the point of having outlived its usefulness. Rather than taking care of business by addressing the pressing needs of the nation, conservatives have chosen instead to play partisan games with roll calls on issues from the fringe. Twice in the past week, measures have been voted upon that are intended not to further the well being of the general populace, but to put Democrats on the defensive as the election nears.

Example Number One: The House trotted out a resolution that would, in effect, bring an end to the extensive gun-control laws that apply to the nation's Capitol. The point isn't that the laws needed repealing, nor is it likely that the resolution is anything but DOA in the Senate; the idea was to set Democrats up as targets for groups like the ultra-partisan National Rifle Association, which will be sure to run attack ads against any and all who voted in opposition to said repeals.

The D.C. sniper case (which is only now finding its way to trial) illustrates well the point that criminals are not likely to follow any gun laws at all. Isn't it enough, though, that the Republicans allowed the assault weapons ban to lapse without renewal? Aren't the strict federal laws in place working, in that neither of the sniper suspects is likely to ever see the light of day again, and rightly so? Those are questions that are deflected out of hand like all other perceived critiques, proving only that the GOP is as hardheaded today as it has ever been.

The right to bear arms is essential to Americans who feel that Big Government (which has never been bigger than it is today) could encroach upon our liberties. However, none of the laws on the books have been found to cross the grain of the Constitution, even under the scrutiny of a Supreme Court stocked with right-wing judges. So the House vote was brought about for only one reason, which is to put the Democrats on the spot. This is not legislation, but mud wrestling, which is nothing more than a waste of their time and our money.

Another such waste of time was seen in the recent push for a Constitutional amendment to ban same-gender marriage. This time, though, the ploy backfired as several Republicans pulled away from the Party's hard line and voted against the measure. Again, the purpose of this vote was not so much to advance any agenda as to make sure that some good gristle will be available in the next campaign. This goes hand in hand with the Republican National Committee's recent flyers that shamelessly attempt to depict "liberals" as being anti-religion and pro-gay.

Even if the measure had passed, like the aforementioned gun law it would certainly have died in the Senate, rendering it yet another abuse of protocol and resources. When will Republican House members, who are supposed to initiate fair lawmaking on behalf of all Americans, start taking their responsibilities seriously? How can it be that these fools could make the time to craft these bills, yet they didn't have the time to actually read the Patriot Act before shoving it down our throats?

Would it help the Republican Party if we, the people whom they refuse to represent adequately, were to fire a few dozen lawmakers? Is that the only way to get them to focus on more pressing matters, like finding a way out of the war in Iraq, or improving homeland security to the point where suggestions like plastic sheeting and duct tape will not fall from the lips of administration officials, not to mention any number of important domestic issues, from Medicare to Social Security? Our government is not an elementary schoolyard. The folks we send to the Hill have a solemn obligation to fulfill the duties delegated to them by the Founding Fathers, and not to behave like the petulant little cretins they have proven themselves to be.

For this, the Republicans should be driven from the Congress. While Osama bin Laden plots to kill us all, we have ineffective nonsense going on in the halls of our government, which promotes nothing more than a conservative stranglehold on power. If the people of this country wish to elect a certain stripe of politician to office, that's fine, but when those politicians abdicate their assignments in the name of gamesmanship, they deserve to lose their jobs.

If they aren't serving the country, they're serving themselves, and in doing so they do nothing for their employers, the taxpayers. They also recently voted to give themselves a pay raise, so they obviously believe that they're doing something right. The problem is, it isn't their bailiwick to come to such a dubious conclusion.

It's ours.

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