The United States of America is comprised of some 330 million people, individuals, human beings. Of those, 535 are members of Congress, and a few thousand others work in some capacity in the federal government. When I use the term We The People, I do not exclude the federal workers, but I also do not rank them any higher than the farmer in Iowa, the steel worker in Pennsylvania, or the rancher in Texas. I do not rank them as being any more important than the person working the drive-thru in a McDonald’s in Poughkeepsie or the teller in a bank in Seattle. Senator Mitch McConnell is only one of those 330 million people. Donald Trump is only one of those 330 million people. They are no more important than I am. They almost certainly have more money and can afford more things than you and I, but from where I stand, that does nothing to make them any better, any more important, than you and me.
Here is how things are supposed to work. Each of the 330 million people who are over 18 are to be allowed to cast one vote that counts toward electing members of Congress every other year, and a president every fourth year. Those people we elected are then expected to make decisions that are in the best interest of those of us who voted for them. Those people we elected, if acting in the best interest of their constituents, will not always agree. For example, an elected official from Iowa will have the best interests of farmers on his agenda, as Iowa is a largely agrarian state, while the official from Michigan may have the best interests of factory workers on his agenda. However, at the end of the day, they make policies that end up helping We The People in one way or another. That is how it is supposed to work.
Here is how it really works. Some of us over the age of 18 dutifully cast a vote, while others decide it is too much trouble and return to their television sets and potato chips. We may or may not be swayed by the ads that are bought and paid for by the very wealthy corporations, ads whose main goal is not to enlighten us about the candidate, but rather to finger-point and tell us how bad the other candidate is. Then, once a candidate is elected, they promptly forget about those who voted for them until the next election rolls around. Instead of making policy decisions that are in the best interest of their constituents, they make policy decisions that are directly guided by the large, wealthy corporations who paid for their advertisements. They forget that we, the taxpayers, pay their salary and they are more interested in the campaign donations they will receive from their corporate sponsors if they do their bidding.
Thus we have seen the introduction of two very similar and very detrimental health care bills in recent months. The House bill passed, but now the Senate bill is being promoted and any senator who has the cojones to be unsupportive of the bill is being punished by Trump and Company.
Dean Heller, a Republican, was elected to the U.S. Senate by the people of Nevada in 2012, by a narrow margin. He will be up for re-election in 2018, and it is expected to be a close race. A look at Heller’s ideology and past voting record shows that he has voted for some things that, as a liberal-thinker, I agree with, and some that I don’t. However, Heller took a stand and announced that he does not support the health care bill that was crafted by Senator Mitch McConnell. Here’s what happened next …
A Trump-supporting Political Action Committee (PAC) called America First Policies and sanctioned by the White House ran a 30-second television ad in Heller’s home state of Nevada:
“[N]ow with strong leadership and a chance to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered care that protects American families, Sen. Dean Heller is saying ‘No.’ Call Sen. Heller, tell him America needs him to keep his promise: Vote ‘yes’ to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
They also ran a one-minute ad that went even further:
“…[N]ow with the leadership of President Trump, we have a real chance to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered care that protects American families and provides health care stability. But Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is saying ‘No.’ ‘No’ to tax cuts to help small business, ‘No’ to ending Obamacare penalties, and ‘No’ to families who can’t afford to see the doctor of their choice. Call Sen. Heller and tell him to keep his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare — before it’s too late.”
Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, were furious over the ads and contacted America First Policies to stop the ads. The ads have since been removed, but not before the damage was done. In all likelihood, Senator Heller will lose his bid for re-election next year because he attempted to do the right thing, to stand firm for the best interests of the people of his state.
Sadly, in the Trump administration it is not about ‘doing the right thing’, and it is not about making policy that is in the best interest of We The People, but it is about supporting the wealthy, the big corporations, and Donald Trump … at all costs.
In an interview in April, Trump, frustrated with his failure to get any of his legislation through Congress, said that the Constitution, the foundation of our current system that has served fairly well for 230 years, is ‘archaic’ and ‘a bad thing for the country’. One can only imagine what he would like to replace it with.
The two-party system should encourage healthy competition and give citizens viable choices on election day. Instead, it has led to corruption, stalemate, vile rhetoric, and a complete disregard on the part of both parties for We The People. In a future post, I will address some ideas for fixing our broken system, but for today it is enough to say that from the top on down, our government under the current regime is no longer a representative government, no longer a democratic-republic, but is an oligarchy … one where the wealthy rule and the rest of us are forgotten.