Congressional Selfishness

Just last week, the House of Representatives was dealing with the massive Defense appropriations bill. The Pentagon had proposed an actual common sense measure that would have required Congress to look at military base closures and submit a report on recommended closures by 2021. The Republican majority barred any base closures and voted down an amendment that would have allowed the Pentagon to proceed.

We’re not even talking about closing bases, but about a report to determine which bases might be closed, and a report that wouldn’t even be finished for four years. What such Congressional action signifies isn’t a desire for a strong and effective national defense, or even more support for wounded and disabled veterans, but merely the political requirement for local pork-barrel defense make-work jobs.

There’s one thing I’m very certain about, and that’s if the incredibly conservative Pentagon says it doesn’t need a base… it really doesn’t need that base. And I’ll admit readily that the generals may not always be right. That was one reason why the proposal was for a commission to study the recommended closures. The fact that the Republican-dominated House of Representatives wouldn’t even look at the closure issue is a good indication of how present-day politicians have no desire to even look at anything that might cost them votes, even if it is in the national interest.

In fact, I’m not certain that more than a handful of national politicians give a damn about the national interest. Certainly, for all their rhetoric, none of those recently elected from my state do. I’d go even further. It’s gotten to the point where almost any politician who goes against his or her party line or popular opinion is likely to be viewed as a traitor.

Admittedly, there’s a need for consensus for any group to get anything done, but when challenging that group consensus is treason, we, as a society, have gone from a fractious representative democracy to a nation riven and paralyzed by cliquish group-think, represented by men and women either afraid, unwilling, or unable to follow Burke’s statement to the electors of Bristol that, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

And that’s not only sad, but if it continues, will likely be terminal for the experiment begun by the Founding Fathers.

14 thoughts on “Congressional Selfishness”

  1. Daze says:


    1. We may be getting there far sooner than I’d once thought.

    2. Bob says:


      1. Gilead is the name given to the future United States in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

        1. Gabe says:


          1. Gabe says:

            Especially with the current WH holder.

  2. Dan Cody says:

    I’ve often wondered if things are as grim for the Empire as they seem, or if we’re just more aware of the shady stuff happening than we used to be because of the new media.

  3. I Hartsoch says:

    where did you get the information for this? Is there a bill number or a article that I can read so that I may discuss this with my friends so that I can point this out as facts backing me?

    1. The information on this wasn’t exactly hidden. It was in a number of newspapers, but for detailed information, you’d likely have to go to the Congressional Record.

  4. Devildog says:

    I think you and I might have been in the service at the same time. Anyway, the only thing I disagree with you on this post is that it is not only the GOP but the DEMs too, that feel like they have to bring home the bacon to get elected. The PLAIN DEALER just wrote a long article about a former long time House Member who brought “reams” of federal money back to his district and that was something to be lauded. That is the way business is done and that is why our country is in the predicament that we are in. Our elected officials are being judged by how much they can give to us instead of being judged on their good sound decision making prowess. When I was in the Marines it was clear that many of our military bases should close and be consolidated. The Generals want to do it so they can use that facility money for operating and training. Instead we keep these useless bases open to provide useless jobs that do nothing for our common defense. We only have one political party in this country with two subtle flavors

    1. On this issue, the Democrats are just as much to blame as the Republicans, possibly more so, since they’re the ones for lower defense spending.

  5. Wine Guy says:

    Would a Constitutional amendment detailing term limits for members of the House and Senate help this? If someone knows that they cannot (ever) be re-elected to the public trough, might we see more statesmanship than what we see now?

    1. It’s been proposed numerous times, often by noted politicians, but never seems to get anywhere.The late Senator William Armstrong suggested a lifetime term limit of three terms in the House and two Senate terms. He suggested it when he was first elected to the House. He served three House terms, ran successfully for the Senate, served two terms and then retired to private life. From my experience as a Congressional staffer, limiting representatives to a single term would be as great a disaster as what we have now, and would essentially transfer more power to the staffers and bureaucracy. But unlimited terms obviously have become unworkable. To my mind, Armstrong’s proposal would have been one of the more workable.

  6. Eamonn Murphy says:

    I’m from Bristol and had forgotten Edmund Burke’s comment. It seems to me that our elected representatives have submitted to the electorate and failed to use their judgement over Brexit (UK leaving Europe.) The majority of MP’s thought and think it’s a damn silly idea but have bowed to ‘the will of the people’. I admit this has not much to do with ‘pork barrel’ politics. Our version of that is arming the Saudis so our defence companies do well, and offer ‘consultancies’ to compliant MP’s.

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