The Perfect Score

by Erica Szpynda

Widener University Economics Major

The American Conservative Union ranks members of Congress on how their votes on key measure relate to the Republican Party.  Keeping the stereotype that congress does not get anything in mind, let’s look at the numbers for 2012:

  • 38 members of the House and 8 members of the Senate voted with the GOP 100% of the time.  These members include Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Marco Rubio, Florida, Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania and Tea Party leader Michelle Bachmann, Minnesota.
  • 20 Senators and 88 Representatives did not vote with the GOP on any measures.

Of the 535 members of Congress, 154 or 28.8% voted straight with their parties.  This makes it seem that 28% of Congress is unwilling to negotiate from their party lines.  2012 was seen as a year of a highly partisan Congress that couldn’t get anything passed.  The fiscal cliff came and Congress did not actually pass anything until after the January 1st deadline.  Since 2013 is not an election year it will be fun to see if members of Congress are willing to cross lines and negotiate across party lines.

Congress not getting anything done is a problem and gives them an approval rating lower than cockroaches.  With the numbers shown, it is interesting that 28% vote with their party all of the time and hopefully their reasoning is that this is what their constituency believes in.

Let the Games Begin

by Andrea Stickley
Widener University Political Science Major
The gauntlet has been thrown down and a challenged issued.
In a time when Congress should be working together to pass legislation and get the country moving forward (anyone out there remember the fact that we have money problems and gun control issues) a division has ensued between the House and the Senate. House Speaker John Boehner says that he is tired of the Senate just sitting on their hands and not doing anything, so it’s time for them to step up to the plate. No longer will the House initiate legislation, and thus, take the fall when things go wrong. It’s now in the Senate’s court to start doing things.
I hate to break it to you boys, but you’re not actually on opposing teams. In case you forget, both the Senate and the House make up one Congress in one nation. Anyone catch the word one there, that appears twice in that sentence. This means you need to work together, not against each other. It seems that occasionally those in Congress forget that they’re all batting for the same team, the United States. Instead, they think it’s my team against yours to see who can get more accomplished and be liked more by the American people.
It doesn’t matter who initiates more legislation or is liked better. The key is to just keep working together to actually get things accomplished. It has to be a team effort. If the Senate decides not to do their job, then eventually people will be able to see that. However, if the House starts to just sit on their hands and not do anything, people will see that as well. There’s no I in team and no I in Congress. You can’t just decide to quit playing because you feel not everyone else is putting forth the same effort; that will only make things worse.
While the Senate maybe does need to pick up the pace and contribute to things, it doesn’t mean the House should back off their effort. So while Boehner may have issued this threat, it probably won’t last long or do that much good.

What is Congress Anymore?

by Andrea Stickley
Widener University Political Science Major
When our forefathers came up with notion of how to run America, they decided upon the three branches of government to divide the power so no one would become to dominant. They implemented a few checks and balances in hopes that it would keep everything running smoothly. Fast forward to 2013 and what do you have: a disaster. Nothing is going America’s way. We have economic problems, gun violence issues, drug conflicts, and an intrusion into people’s personal lives. Somehow, I don’t think this is what our forefathers had planned on happening. So who’s to blame? What’s the cause? And, is there anyway to solve our problems?
This semester we delve into the production of the legislative branch of our government: Congress. Enter in two houses made up of (what are presumed to be) intelligent humans that represent the rest of the American population. These Senators and Representatives are supposed to be acting on behalf of their constituents. On the table right now in Congress are three hot topics: gun control, gay marriage, and marijuana. Voting on legislation about these topics is supposed to be based upon what the people want, therefore, one would assume that majority would win. However, in this day and age, wheeling and dealing has come into play. No longer are the votes for bills straightforward and based upon what the people want. It’s now about what congressmen can make the best deal.
As the 113th Congress begins its session and starts deliberating on these issues, the question arises of whether they are going to listen to the people, their party’s stances on issues, or the deals that they can make with others?
We are….the people.

Tug of War

by Matthew Dugan
Widener University Political Science Major
The current fiscal fight in Congress between the Democrats and the Republicans is adding further evidence to the widely held opinion that congress in incapable of agreeing on anything. The same fight that happens every year is being played out once again, Democrats want tax increases while the Republicans want to cut social programs. In the end there will be some sort of agreement made where nobody is happy, with the possibility of a government shut down happening first. Compromise is an ugly word in politics and officials on both sides will stand their ground without trying to reach any sort of actual agreement. They will stand on their side until they are blue in the face like a child who cant get his way. This is one of America’s largest frustrations with congress, in my opinion. They want to do what they feel is right for the country, I’m willing to grant them that and I have respect for them, but they are not helping us by shoving their finger’s in their ears going “blah blah blah” while the other side shouts their opinion. 
 
The only way to stop this cycle is to have politicians act like the mature and civil adults they are and to be open minded to others opinions. Obviously there are things that are off the table for both parties and they will not compromise on them. What needs to be found is some kind of middle ground. Neither side will ever accept the others entire proposal so it is pointless to continually try and get them to vote your way. The base of all this is the degradation of civil discourse in American politics. Politicians show almost no respect to one another. If the discourse in politics was changed then much more would get done if people merely showed each other the respect that is due to them as fellow human beings. If officials would stop pinning the opposition as someone who is trying to destroy America then there would be progress. I feel in my heart that no member of Congress, or any politician, wants to destroy America, I feel that they all want what is best for this country, they just want to go about it in a different way or they have a different idea of what “best” is. Attacking a person’s character and refusing to hear what they have to say will not solve anything and we will continue in this gridlock. 

Enough is Enough

by Stephen Scuderi

Widener University Political Science Major

With an approval rating of 11 percent, Congress has reached an all time low in the eyes of the American people. Unable to agree or make solid compromises, both houses have deteriorated into mudslinging matches that leave the citizens of United States angered, ashamed, and desperate for change. But who is to blame? Is it the Republicans, who are refusing to compromise in order ruin President Obama’s term? Or is it Democrats, who are accused of being ‘spineless’ and unwilling to fight for proper compromise?

In my opinion the stagnation of Congress is the fault of both parties. Party polarization has become so strong that nothing can get done. It’s common knowledge that the first priority of every politician is reelection but enough is enough. Politicians, especially Republicans are afraid to work across the aisle for fear of being labeled as a ‘moderate’. In the Republican Presidential Primary, Newt Gingrich has been attacked for participating in a climate change ad with Nancy Pelosi. I find it disheartening that simply being seen with opposition is toxic to ones political career. It’s time for Congress to remember their oath of office, “…I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter..”, because how they are currently acting is a disgrace to their position and a disserve to the American people.