Upon a moment’s reflection, the events of the past weekend seem more than a little ridiculous. In the middle of the night, a one-person, party-line majority of senators voted to pass a highly-controversial and unpopular tax cut, the benefactors of which nobody can seem to agree upon.
Welcome to America, folks.
A large majority of Americans woke up on Saturday morning to a country that no longer takes their interests into account whatsoever. Despite the fact that only a fourth of voters approve the plan, according to a Quinnipiac survey, 51 out of 100 senators voted for it. The lone Republican holdout, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) wasn’t much better than his GOP colleagues; he voted for motions to allow the bill to proceed onto the floor and opposed giving senators a weekend to read the legislation.
It’s more than okay to be angry; at this point, it’s justified. Some of the concessions offered to Republican senators who were on the fence as of Friday are pathetic. For Susan Collins, the Affordable Care Act was still weakened, even if the individual mandate was kept. For Jeff Flake, no guarantees were made to him on DACA, except for the fact that he’d get a seat at a meeting on it.
When Republicans are as spineless and ignorant to voters as they are now, the left has a natural opportunity, especially the far-left. A tax plan that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor is the polar opposite of socialist ideals. When the tax plan inevitable fails (As a similar economic structure did in Kansas), progressives will have a golden opportunity to turn a generation in their favor.
But Americans don’t even need to get hooked on socialism to vote unprincipled Republicans out of office. Honestly, it’s time that the U.S. just tried to use common sense.
The tax plan and the insanity involving its passage is just an allegory for the rest of American politics at this point. An unpopular piece of legislation is introduced by Republicans to benefit the rich and they don’t even try to hide its purpose. Democrats cry foul and the media truthfully reports the devastating effects that the bill would have, but a quarter of America doesn’t listen because they’ve become distrustful of what they see as “elite” institutions. Finally, despite the bill’s unpopularity, Republicans pass the legislation as quietly as possible, using dirty and low-to-the-ground tactics to ensure that Democrats have no say whatsoever and less-informed members of the public don’t see how ridiculous their policy really is.
I’ve had confidence in the past that America can fix itself without having to enact make major changes to the legislative process and the financing of candidates. However, this tax fiasco ended that delusion. Our system really is broken. At present, it’s going to be pretty hard to fix.
Yet I’m optimistic, provided Americans can do one thing: start using common sense and recognize that their problems can be traced back to problems with the government.
The vast majority of politicians serving right now are bought and paid for by big-money donors who represent their own interests, not the interests of the many. Thus, campaign finance reform needs to happen so the rich can’t continue to roll over Americans through Congress. Congressional districts are currently drawn to keep politicians in office for decades even as the demographics of a state as a whole change. Districts should be redrawn instead by independent committees that don’t have a vested interest in one party having control of a legislature. Large numbers of citizens are disenfranchised and uninterested in the political system because they don’t to register to vote or aren’t able to. It’s common sense, therefore to begin to reform how we teach civics in schools and make voter registration automatic.
None of this is radical or a socialist plot to take over the government. If the situation were reversed and Democrats ran the country through illicit backdoors, the right would likely be screaming for these same reforms I’m calling for now. It’s not crazy to want to give power in the government back to the people it serves.
It’s literally just common sense.
The Denome’s Advocate is a weekly, sometimes satirical, column with a liberal slant.
Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome