How to Stop Hating Your Congressperson, and Take your Country Back
Anyone who has followed politics for the last decade or so will be familiar with the work of young Jason Chaffetz of Utah.
The Congressman from the “beehive state” is best known as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee where he spent much of his time doggedly chasing down Hillary Clinton’s secret email server and/or trying to prove her negligence in the Bengazhi attacks of September 2012.
His arguments for pouring an immense amount of time and money into these investigations, even after they clearly had failed to uncover anything significant, were specious and entirely partisan in nature. Prior to the 2016 election he more or less promised an unending string of investigations into Clinton should she win, and when she lost he kept going after her anyway.
Pretty standard Washington stuff.
Then Donald Trump — a man who would cheat at a game of paddycake with his own grandkids and who hired a National Security Advisor with more Aeorflot Bonus Miles than sense— was elected President, and this tireless watchdog for the people resigned because his foot hurt or he wanted to spend time with his family of something.
If you google his name it will be suggested you also check out Trey Gowdy and Darrell Issa so there you have it, but we digress.
On his way out of town, Chaffetz made an interesting suggestion and one we at the CDLP think is worthy of discussion. He suggested that members of Congress should receieve a $2,500 per month housing allowance.
As you can imagine, given that Chaffetz is a highly visable member of a party that would happily take healthcare away from 22 million people, but only after being told that 24 million was too many, his proposal was met with more than a little ridicule.
Putting that bit of hipocrosy aside, however, we think Chaffetz may have a point. The average congressperson makes about $174,000/year which is a very healthy sum to most Americans, but if you have to maintain two homes, one of them in a city as expensive as Washington D.C. and you have kids in college or other expenses, you could burn through that pretty quickly.
We at the CDLP certainly aren’t going to go to the matresses over a housing allowance for a group of people who haven’t been doing much of anything for the last decade, especially considering that a lot of them are independently wealthy. It will not be appearing in our final platform, we just think it’s an interesting proposal, especially if you want to attract good people, and not just wealthy people (not the same thing often) to politics.
(Note: We are considering a plank proposing that anyone elected to public office can have their student loan forgiven-Senator, Mayor, City Councilperson, Dog Catcher it doesn’t matter. More on that later.)
No, what interests us more about the reaction to Chaffetz’s comments is people’s natural inclination to mock him for even suggesting it, and what that says about how citizens view their public servants. We at the CDLP like to call it “The House of Cards Problem”.
When the CDLP comes out with it’s summer reading list (keep an eye out for it), one of the books at the top will be Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
Pomerantsev moved to Western Europe as a 10-month-old from Ukraine (then part of the USSR). Later in life he headed back east, and worked as a TV producer in Moscow. The book is a series of vignettes about life in Putin’s Russia, and one part in particular we believe speaks volumes about the current state of politics, and media, in America.
Pomerantsev spent a lot of time working for TNT, an entertainment station that was not state-owned, but was for all intents and purposes state controlled. The Kremlin “encouraged” them in certain editorial directions lets say.
“One of the areas TNT specialized in is satire. If the USSR drove humor underground and thus made it the enemy of the state, the new Kremlin actively encourages people to have a laugh at it’s expense: One TNT sketch show is about corrupt Duma deputies who are always whoring and partying while praising each other’s patriotism; another is about the only traffic cop in Russia who doesn’t take bribes — his family is starving and his wife is always nagging him to become “normal” and more corrupt. As long as no real government officials are named, then why not let the audience blow off some steam?”
So the Kremlin encourages the media to paint the government as a corrupt, out of touch, nonstop money grab. It’s one of the (many) ways they keep people frustrated and checked out so they can freely turn the government into, wait for it, a corrupt, out of touch, nonstop money grab.
Now it is not our contention that either Netflix or it’s most popular production House of Cards is being manipulated by the government. It is our contention, however, that most people think it’s closer to a documentary than a drama, and that this belief makes the possibility of a President who literally murders people and orchestrates false flag terrorist attacks to consolidate his own power more realistic. The question is are people being mobilized by this? Does their belief in its essential truth about how government works make them want to change that or do they feel so overwhelmed by the non-stop negtivity that they just give up?
There are 535 members of Congress, close to 15,000 staffers working with them according to our research and an overall federal workforce of over 21 million people. Ninety nine percent of them are not cable news blowhards or political pundits. They have never murdered anyone, stolen money or had a threesome with their Secret Service detail. We believe that there are even members of Congress, the ones you don’t see as much on cable news, who go to work every day and **GASP** try to make the lives of their constituents better. We know it’s hard to believe that not every politicians and government official is a disingenous, partisan pinhead but it’s true.
The Social Security Administration employs 65,000 people to manage a program that keeps millions of elderly and diabled people out of poverty. The VA, the Federal Parks Service, the USDA, Homeland Security, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. These people are part of our government, they do good work and if we lose faith in them then we lose faith in ourselves, and if we lose faith in ourselves, well that’s game over.