Enter the London Daily Mail, the newspaper in the United Kingdom that always puts things out about American politics, stories that are usually true, regardless of political persuasion. They are the ones who often get the news out there and force the otherwise "brain dead" excuses for American print journalists to face the facts when they are in the open.
No organization in the body politic seems to generate as much outrage as the American Congress. Perhaps because it's an easier mark than the Executive or maybe its because of it size, for with five hundred and thirty five sitting members, there are always sure to be a sufficient number of scoundrels onboard to find a rotten apple. And it's about that very institution that the Mail has taken aim, already posting an advance on it.
The Mail recently ran an advance article on a new book soon to hit the shelves. It's a book written by a sitting Congressman, a Democrat, anonymously calling himself Congressman "X" for anonymity. It discusses the way Congress works and if the content of "The Confessions of Congressman X" is accurate, we will once again see how the purpose for our legislature and what it is designed to deliver and to whom has been turned on its head over the years.
Congressman X's story was laid out to Robert Atkinson, a former Chief of Staff for two Democratic congressmen, who took notes of their discussions with his permission. The final result is a short eighty-four page document which was turned into the book by a small Minnesota book publisher, Mill City Press, which will be available through Amazon.com on May 24th. Advance orders are currently being taken.
The Congressman tells that the major requirement of elected representatives is to raise money for the party. The practice is identical in both parties and there are dollar quotas which must be achieved to remain in favor with the leadership. It is the focus of the principal amount of their time and legislation is just a second thought to them, although not to the leadership which knows very well what it wants passed into law.
So how is legislation put together and formulated? Paid staff members, most of whom are long term Washington residents and experienced working for many elected officials, do all of the work along with their counterparts from varying lobbyist organization with subject matter expertise for their clients. With the exception of the elected leadership and key committee personnel, the rank and file congressional members merely receive a talking point paper when going to the floor to discuss and vote, making choices based upon the guidance received. In other words, the representative is anything but independent, and his every vote and utterance is either in consonance with what is pre-ordained to be done or he can expect to find himself having little influence as well as short duration in office. Lobbyists provide the money to push for the pet causes, paid staffers do the bidding to put their wishes into legislative format, and the robotic representatives just duly finalize the action.
No wonder they don't read bills and can't answer any questions. That's not even necessary and what's more, Congressman X even states that what makes the system operate so smoothly is the elected body has little if any respect for the voters who elect them to office. Why? Because the people have little interest in what is going on and are easy to manipulate.
Congressman X does admit in his epistle that successfully gaining office didn't start out to be this way. He had good intentions on behalf of the voters, but as he saw the way the system works and realized that it was rather futile to fight it, he just went along with the program. And the major culprit: the leadership of the parties who quickly understood what kept them in power and mastered its use. It provides them security, money, power and a plush lifestyle by helping the special interests get what they want and maintain it that way. They put on a facade of service when in reality they are serving themselves. How else can they come into office of limited means and leave office wealthy? It's certainly not based on their salary.
Many of us have guessed for a long time that something is very wrong with the way the legislative process works, but none of us likely thought it was this devastating. It will be interesting to see what, if any, results come from the book's publication. Hopefully whoever Congressman X really is has his back covered well, for he took special aim in his comments to indict Senator Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, for his roughshod dictatorial power.
Sadly, folks, this isn't just limited to Washington, for if you've ever visited a state legislative meeting to present testimony or idea, you will find that a pre-ordained process is well established and by the time a session is underway, the outcomes are largely determined for the various bills. The days of vigorous debate and challenge are over; today it is just turned into a cover show. If we ever want to really change the focus of the American political system that works for the people instead of itself and its financial masters, we've got a lot of work to do. And that starts with the education of our people and the inculcation of the belief that it is a responsibility of citizenship, something that we gave up years ago. Woe be it to us if we don't wake up and fast.
NOTE: The use of the pronoun He was used for ease of writing. The author could be male or female, no identity has been posted in the advance.