Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


Maybe the 'Deplorables' Knew What They Were Doing

By Rob Tenery, MD on November 8, 2017

According to Jay Costa reporting in press@maplight.org on March 10, 2013, the average costs to get a candidate elected to the U.S. House of Representatives was almost $1.7 million and to the U.S. Senate over $10.4 million, in 2012. It takes a lot of money to pay for campaign expenses and media time. Candidates almost constantly have their hands out--- one for shaking or holding babies and the other waiting to pocket a contribution.

With no term limits, the system will never change unless the elected official is in the last term of his/her tenure in office. The reality is that donating money and support in the campaign process do make a difference. One is by helping to elect a candidate who more closely supports the issues that align with those that give and help. The second reward is more access to the now elected officials or their staff.

Unfortunately, as with those whose candidate lost or those with fewer resources to donate, are at a disadvantage when it comes to access. That’s just the way it is, because the alternative is governance by autocracy.

However, there should be concern if one pays attention as to how this country’s elected government make and carry out the laws they were elected to uphold. In the ideal, it should be one-person one-vote depending on the majority will of the official’s constituency.

With the Democrats voting in lockstep, and the Republicans not able to get their act together, it seems very little gets done in Washington. One complaint is that bills passed by the House languish in the Senate. When Harry Reid was Senate Majority leader, he was criticized for limiting bills from coming to the Senate floor if they didn’t go along with his agenda. In 2016, it was reported that in 11 of the past 19 Congresses more than 300 bills were waiting for Senate action by the time Congress adjourned. Additionally, nearly 200 or more bills from the House sit and are not acted on by the Senate for the last 40 years. Many of the bills stall at the Senate committee level. Both Parties also hold votes unless they’re reasonably sure the measure will pass. So when a bill doesn’t get a vote, it doesn’t mean the bill is being blocked but that there isn’t enough support for it to pass.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has crossed the Party line on several occasions and has been criticized by some of her Democratic associates for breaking Party ranks.  On the Republican side Senators John McCain, Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska have blocked the Republican’s health care fix. Take the case of Texas Senator Ted Cruz who has stood by the conservative promises on which he had campaigned. If it weren’t for the fact that the moderates and the Rhinos in the Senate liked Trump less, Cruz would have probably had only minimal support by the ‘old guard’ of the Republican Party.

The electorate of private individuals and corporate entities are solicited to give an exorbitant amount to get their candidates elected. Then when the winners finally get to Washington, a handful of the ‘old guard’ tells them how to vote. It’s the Mama Duck philosophy--- fall in line and we’ll help you get elected to another term to do the same thing. Who really cares what their constituency wanted? Who cares whether their Party’s position is not the best of the options on the table? It all goes back to Party loyalty and the rest be dammed!

Trump has pushed the Washington leadership ‘back on its heels’. He went to the Democratic leaders to get an extension on the national debt. He pulled the plug on federal supplements to private health care insurers to prop up the premiums for the disadvantaged. Then he’s backing a bipartisan plan to shore-up the Affordable Care Act until a better fix can be put in place. It appears only Trump is willing to reach across the aisle.

Maybe the ‘deplorable’ 63 million, who voted for Trump, knew what they were doing!





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