Friday, December 4, 2015

It Is No Longer the People's Congress

On Tuesday, House Republicans blocked a vote on the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists act, which would have banned gun sales to anyone on the government's no-fly list.

Yesterday, every Republican except one, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, voted down a similar measure in the Senate.  Fifty-two Republicans and one Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, voted against the bill.

A half-hour later, the Senate--after a two-year wait--took up the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill which would expand background checks for gun buyers.

what eye thynk:  Now, I know it's naive, but I would really like to think of the people in Congress as representatives of me and you, the people.  I would like to wake up each day secure in the knowledge that they are there to take cues from what we-the-people believe to be right and to vote accordingly.  Unfortunately, we-the-people can't match the money the NRA is willing to throw at the men and women we send to Washington.  And those men and women prove day after day, year after year that, no matter what they say at home, once they breathe the congressional ether, we-the-people no longer matter.

A Quinnipiac poll taken earlier this year asked "Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?"  90 percent of Republican voters, 92 percent of Independents, and 98 percent of Democrats said "Yes."  That's an average of 93 percent of the American people who say they support universal background checks for all gun sales.

But when the Senate voted on the Manchin-Toomey bill on Thursday, it received only 47 votes--only 47 percent of the Senate heeded what 93 percent of Americans have indicated they want.  As Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) said after the vote, "If you need proof that Congress is a hostage to the gun lobby, look no further than today's vote."

I have voted in every election since the year I turned 18, and at my age, that's a lot of elections.  I have never understood the people who chose not to exercise their right to take part in our Democratic system of government.  But I am beginning to wonder, what's the point?

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