Oftentimes, people fret that Congress isn’t doing anything. But is that such a bad thing?
The divide of the will of the people (that Congress is supposed to represent) from the priorities of lawmakers and the agenda of the executive branch has likely never been wider.
If this sounds like hyperbole, it shouldn’t. Poll after poll continues to show that the American people are absolutely fed up with Washington and the institution that is Congress. Liberals may retort by saying the American people actually want Congress enacting more laws, but that’s really a clever reading of public polls that suggest people are looking for a reprieve (even a temporary one) from an ever-expanding federal government.
The fact is that Congress does need intractability. With the exception of a few targeted pieces of legislation, Congress really needs just to lie low.
There are certainly pressing issues like entitlement reform that warrant immediate and ambitious reforms, but it’s obvious to everyone that as long as Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is the Majority Leader and President Obama is in the White House, any meaningful reforms will need to be shelved until there is bold conservative representation that is absolutely dedicated to shaking the status quo.
This, however, does not mean that the American people should not sound the alarm in the meantime because of reckless federal spending and the cozy relationship between the political and special interest classes.
We have a $17 trillion deficit and a federal government that has only gotten bigger regardless of which party is in power.
Sadly, our government is still largely controlled by special interests, lobbyists and consultants. Need proof? Look at the farm bill. This Frankenstein of a bill cobbles together subsidies for farmers and the wealthy, including Bruce Springsteen, under the guise of helping America’s hungry.
And despite the ascent of the tea party, lawmakers are sadly still beholden to the powerful forces that fill their campaign fund coffers.
But this doesn’t mean that conservatives in Congress simply need to give up.
Again, on specific and targeted issues, conservatives should be leading the charge for ideas that empower the American people, not bureaucrats. We know these ideas are a reality. At the Heritage Action for America Conservative Policy Summit, lawmaker after lawmaker talked about common-sense solutions that the American people could easily support.
A good example of this is education reform–the need to drastically alter the broken education system through greater accountability, transparency and choice. At the summit, liberal commentator and Fox News contributor Juan Williams joined Heritage’s Lindsey Burke to talk about the benefits of school choice.
If we continue to elevate these important issues, more and more Americans will surely recognize that Washington is not only broken, but in serious need of new leadership. Congress enjoys an approval rating at a record low of 9 percent.
Some may describe the current state of affairs as gridlock, but the truth is that this actually resembles more of what our Founding Fathers envisioned when designing our democratic republic grounded in the idea of the “consent of the governed.”
Intractability in defense of liberty is most certainly virtuous.