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More than a ballgame

Just a thought

September 21, 2011
Congress now has its lowest approval rate in history. And most of us know why: It's a mess.

According to a recent AP-GfK poll, the approval rating of Congress has dropped to 12 percent, its lowest ever. So, they're definitely doing something wrong in Washington. And dumping safety-net programs that are needed now more than ever, failing to create good-paying jobs and the stand-off during the recent debt ceiling fiasco pretty much sealed the deal on public opinion.

I think big business, their lobbyists and the rich have pretty much controlled the strings on the congressional puppets for decades. But there was at least an attempt to hide the fact by giving us little guys — working Americans — something every once in a while, if for no other reason than to pacify us in order to get our votes the next time around.

These days, everyone's just mean. They talk mean, they act mean, they want us to act and talk mean. They hate the "other guys," and we're supposed to "hate the other guys," too. They are right, and "the other guys" are wrong. It's their way or the highway. If we don't help big business and the poor, little rich guys, we'll all be sorry because, in order to get something, we first must agree to give them a lot. And if we give them enough and we hate the "other guys" enough, and if we do away with enough regulations and allow them to do whatever they want, we may just get a few of those trickle-down crumbs.

Anyone who keeps up with the legislation Congress is now working on should realize that there's little being done to create jobs, shore up safety nets like unemployment and food stamps that are so drastically needed now that jobs are scarce and restore money to programs to feed poor children and educate those from low-income families.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor just laid down the law to his fellow congressmen that emergency funds should not be made available for victims of Hurricane Irene until cuts to other programs have been made in equal amounts. We've all seen the pictures of entire towns and communities devastated by flooding and the mud. Some towns were like islands, surrounded by water with roads and bridges washed out. People couldn't get to work, if their place of employment was even operating. Thousands had no flood insurance because, in many areas, flood insurance is not available. Many of the towns in the path of the storm were already cash-strapped, and officials are worried that there isn't money to rebuild infrastructure that was destroyed. And Cantor doesn't want to help them, nor does he want anyone else to help them. He wants to make a political statement instead. These little towns are the homes of thousands of children and elderly people, yet he can easily turn his back on them as if they were nothing more than animals.

One has to wonder if Cantor's hometown was inundated and he sat on his roof until the water receded, only to find knee-deep mud in his bedroom and there was no insurance, would he still stick by the rant of delaying emergency help to himself and his neighbors for as long as it takes Congress to fight among itself and try to find places to cut funds from other programs. I think not.

But all the grandstanding, name-calling, mud-slinging, hate-filled rhetoric that we see coming from members of Congress has an impact on this country. Aren't they setting fine examples for our youth? Do we want our children to act this way and to hate the "other guys" who are supposed to be doing the same job as they are?

And then there's "Wide Stance" Craig, "Wacky" Weiner and many others who can't keep their pants on for a full term. Want to send your kid up there as a page? And if your kid was a page in Washington, would you make better choices about whom you vote for and send there?

Many people see the whole thing like a ballgame. "Let's make them lose so we can win!" But the thing is, we and them are in the same boat. If we sink them, we sink, too.

No, politics are not ballgames and certainly not entertainment. But members of Congress seem intent on making a joke of it all. It's surprising that they have even a 12-percent approval rate. Congress hasn't hit a lick at helping working Americans for the last several years. They can't even keep their own house clean. And when Congress can't make Congress work, why do we keep believing they can make America work?

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