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The U.S. Congress is in free fall

Published by The Black Commentator, October 19, 2023

Can its dysfunction be a threat to national security? Now the country’s business is being held hostage because the Republicans kicked out the Speaker of the House with absolutely no plan for a successor.

The chaos on Capitol Hill has been going on far too long, long enough for us to draw some informed conclusions. The situation has reached unbelievable depths of dysfunction. The world is on fire around us while those elected to the federal legislative branch are mired in testosterone-driven conflicts. Our representatives appear to be incapable of leading the country. We need to get past the late-night show jokes and sarcastic social media memes. This is too serious.

The partisan political shenanigans continue to disgust the American people. A recent Pew Research poll concluded that our opinion of electoral politics and elected officials is “unrelentingly negative, with little hope of improvement on the horizon.” The fact that the Republican presidential front-runner is a former president facing multiple civil and criminal charges is downright scary.

This is the same Congress that spent months haggling over the nation’s debt ceiling debacle before finally agreeing on a temporary fix. The country barely avoided what some economic forecasters called the “financial Armageddon.” The breach would have resulted in a financial crisis that would’ve reverberated around the world, starting with the devaluing of the US dollar. Interest rates would have soared while the stock market took a dive. Social security and other federal benefits would have come to a halt, throwing many American families into deeper economic despair.

The Democrats and Republicans finally agreed on one thing. They agreed to raise the debt and take up the issue after the 2024 elections. With President Biden’s signature on the bill, the country was able to avert its first-ever default. For now.

I have plenty of criticisms of the Democrats, but it is mainly around a lack of strategy and their inability to assertively move a progressive agenda forward. The bad behavior is not equal for both parties. Hands down, that jacket can mainly be worn by Republicans. The far-right wing element within the GOP keeps driving the country dangerously close to the proverbial brink.

Now the country’s business is being held hostage because the Republicans kicked out the Speaker of the House with absolutely no plan for a successor. Kevin McCarthy barely won a decision to be the reigning champ after fifteen rounds. He and his reckless colleagues appear to be punch-drunk now after that bout as they struggle to find McCarthy’s replacement.

The growing public disdain and alienation is bound to have consequences for the upcoming election cycle. There is little voter enthusiasm except by the MAGA forces. The country is facing big problems with little leaders: high inflation, shameful homelessness, workers strikes, ecological destruction, senseless violence.

The rest of the world is also looking to the US for leadership. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict hit a volatile flashpoint that will lead to unprecedented atrocities in the coming weeks. The leadership desperately needed on the domestic and international fronts is not forthcoming.

Those of us who understand the gravity of the situation are at a loss as to how to get our elected leaders focused and serious about the challenges facing the planet. Shaming doesn’t work. Trying to replace Tweedle Dee every two years is time-consuming and expensive, not to mention there’s no guarantee of a People’s victory. Voters have begged for accountability and transparency to no avail as the corruption and dysfunction continues blatantly in our faces.

I’m no expert on national security but it seems to me that this kind of internal strife and turmoil make the country vulnerable to foreign attacks – covert or overt. It’s what the CIA operations look like in other countries when it needs to expand or protect the U.S. empire – create chaos and instability for a regime change.

We who believe in democracy have to up the ante if we are to move from a defensive posture to an offensive one. We can’t get so disgusted with the process and the players that we give up and give in. There’s too much at stake.

First, don’t try to deal with 435 herding cats: deal with your own cats in the House and the Senate. Organizing for power at the grassroots level means building bigger, stronger and more effective coalitions with a shared vision and objective demands. These fat cats don’t respond to a handful of angry people at their doors or a couple of letters of disappointment. We gotta organize BIG or stay home and suffer silently. Just remember, the meek have never inherited the earth.

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