Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Congress

The political system of the United States is divided into several branches of power. The most powerful branch is the Congress. Congress can independently execute many powers and thus satisfy the people they represent. Alas, this is not always the case, and often Congress does not act in accordance to public opinion. There are two ways to analyze Congress: in theory and in practice. In theory, the Congress represents Americans and in practice they often represent their special interests.
Congress, as granted by Article I of the United States Constitution, has more power than any other branch in the American Government. The Constitution states that Congress shall “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States.” In theory, Congress appears to satisfy our representative democracy. Legislators are supposed to determine their votes on laws by how their constituents feel on the issues. Congresspersons are elected to represent the people and make decisions that the people allegedly cannot make themselves. Since, both major parties (Republicans and Democrats) our in Congress, Americans of various ideological views are supposed to be satisfied, to an extent. It is also key to note that, party leadership is fairly divided in Congress. Each party has a Majority Leader, Minority Leader, Majority Whip, Minority Whip, Chairman of the Conference, and various committees. Both public and private bills are introduced in Congress.
Unfortunately, Congress’ power and service to the American people is merely limited to theory in most instances. In practice, Congress do not represent Americans’ views and are actually subjected to the highest level of criticism amongst governmental bodies, with approval ratings often below ten percent. Well, there certainly is a reason for this. American citizens feel that Congress serve private and special interests rather than the majority of Americans’ interests. There are various examples that demonstrate why this statement is accurate. Mostly it is because members of Congress feel they have to vote the same as the other members or vote party line; there are few challenging personalities. For example, Congressman Ron Paul, a challenger, can testify to this when he voted against the War in Iraq and voted against the Patriot Act. Paul was one of the few Congresspersons to vote against these measures, and he suggests that other members of Congress may have voted for them to avoid being unpopular and therefore unelectable. In more recent examples, the gigantic $700 Billion (many say it is actually in the trillions) Wall Street bailout was an action the majority of the American public did not favor and yet Congress passed it anyway. Another example is President Barack Obama’s Stimulus Package, which once again most Americans do not want. The people feel this package does not satisfy their needs, but rather special interests and certain constituents. This all brings in the factor of party domination, which currently is the Democrats. So, the Democrats can use this package to spend money on their special, political interests, such as research for Global Warming. If you asked most Americans, even after viewing An Inconvenient Truth, they would not support spending millions on such an issue that does not stimulate the economy.
In closing, the Congress is the center of the United States Government because it is granted the most powers in the Constitution, but unfortunately it does not execute its powers as it should in theory to represent the people that elect them.

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