This Is A Test

I’m reminded of an old maxim, “When you’re up to your a** in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your first objective was to drain the swamp.” Here’s what I found interesting over the past 48 hours on Capitol Hill.

First, I wonder when was the last time a Congressional Committee proposal got as much attention, media backlash, and citizens lighting up the phone lines, as quickly as the House Republicans’ proposed changes yesterday to the Office of Congressional Ethics. I am curious; I truly don’t know the answer, and would like to know.

Related: The story as of 1/3 @6:38 pm reported by CNN

Second, when has a President-elect ever publicly chided lawmakers for their judgment   concerning an action taken before he’s even sworn in? Donald Trump decried House Republicans who targeted Congressional Ethics for their first move of 2017, rather than” …tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS”

Again, I am curious; I truly don’t know the answer, and would like to know.

Related: Slate’s lexicographers explain #DTS “Drain the swamp”

Third, I’m fascinated by the emergence of not just campaigning but now perhaps also governance via Twitter. The President-elect has no constitutional power connected to his forthcoming office before he’s sworn in. Today, we saw someone with no official power scold and perhaps even humiliate House Republicans on social media. How embarrassing for them. That’s not…(Canadian word, I can’t help it) nice.

Let’s use the more formal word for “nice”: Civility.

Fourth, I expect civility from all elected representatives, from President to dog-catcher, working within as well as across party lines.  I regret that these days “expect” often doesn’t mean “anticipate.”  This is where my political naïveté leaves me at a disadvantage. Couldn’t a civil conversation with a few key players have accomplished the same thing? Sigh. A bullhorn makes a terrifying noise that wipes out stuns one’s ability to think, and rather impedes conversation, to say nothing of negotiation or the development of mutual understanding.

I’m going to proceed for a moment in a spirit of open-mindedness. Let us think the best of the House Republicans and grant that they spent considerable time studying this matter and developing their proposal. Is it possible that the current rules under which the Office of Congressional Ethics operates can create undue hardship for members of Congress who are falsely, or even frivolously, accused of wrongdoing? Sure. The base 2016 salary of rank-and-file members of Congress was $174,000. Legal fees could decimate that in a hurry.

So, what was so urgent about this problem that it needed to be attached to the first package of rules proposed for the new year?  Had it come up for public debate or discussion last year?  If so, then please explain to me why the proposed changes were a perfectly routine matter of good governance and would not have hampered independent oversight. If it was delayed or not supported then, why not?

Once more, I am curious; I truly don’t know the answer, and would like to know.

This was the first item on the news at 6 am when I woke up. I have a day job and I’m not a full time researcher. If I’m a responsible citizen, part of my job is to be well-informed on civic issues. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it true. I didn’t drop everything and look into all sides of the issue.

But I did notice that certain influential social media mavens and media lit up the web this morning, urging citizens to contact their legislators to stop the proposed changes. Thousands of them did just that.

Between the President-elect’s tweet, the flooded phone lines, and heaven knows what else that went on, I saw the first example in what isn’t even yet the new Administration of mobilized public response to a congressional proposal. Pretty impressive for a first go-round.

Finally, today the President-elect just might have been on common ground with a whole lot of people who didn’t vote for him (however briefly, and maybe not for the same reasons). Fascinating.

2 thoughts on “This Is A Test

  1. I’ve never regularly read a blog. I am enjoying yours, however, I have to say, it is difficult for me to read. You are SO civil and respectful which I adore and try very hard to be myself, BUT, I’m feeling like there is no respect for that anymore and no one seems to hear when you share this way. So many people followed the bullhorn, so how do you get them to listen to the discussion instead? By rational discussion? It does not seem likely. This is the cause of the real sadness that I struggle to get out of today. The world (and by that I mean the people in it) is NOT what I thought it was for the past 48 years. It can’t be. I am an atheist, I believe in “the universe”, and I used to believe in the central “goodness” of all people. Do I still? Not today. Hopefully tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angie, BELIEVE. Remember for starters that only 57.9% of eligible voters cast a ballot, and that of those who did, over half didn’t support the winning candidate. Next, remember that just about everybody, no matter what way they voted, gets up in the morning to do the best they can to get through their day and make the best life they can. Finally, the best outcome of all this is to propel all of us to seek allies, find people who hold dear the same values you do. Don’t despair an as-yet unclear agenda that shifts with every tweet. Pick ONE issue to hold the torch on, find friends on both sides of the aisle to work with, and have faith that others are doing the same.

      Like

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