I read letters to the editor and the OpEd pieces in the Bangor Daily News regularly and am impressed with the objective and unbiased wisdom of many of them. After reading them, I nod my head in agreement and think how good it would be to have that wisdom transformed into the action suggested. Then I go on to others and either shake or nod my head, but I’m not moved to act on the suggestions, no matter how fervent they are.
I went through that ceremony again on a recent morning and a light came on. Why don’t I act? The answer came quickly: I don’t act because I believe that the people we elect to Congress are not listening to us when we speak or write as stand-alone constituents. Why should they? We vote them in because we are influenced by the often deceptive campaign ads financed by corporations who do the post-election lobbying that produces legislation benefitting them. Tit for tat.
If we expect legislators to enact laws on our behalf, we must form our own nationwide lobbying group, not to support candidates, but to make them feel threatened by failure at their next election if they do not act in the best interests of the country. A good name for such a group would be “Common Sense,” a basis of analysis very much lacking in Congress and often in state legislatures.
It wouldn’t be difficult to join Common Sense: All that would be required is for members to pay attention to previous votes by candidates and see if they pass the straight-face test for common sense on behalf of the people, then walk into the voting booth and vote for candidates who have shown that they are doing their best for the people and are not pandering to corporate money.
Common Sense would have no dues, no officers and no advertising, but it would require informal conversations one-on-one with other voters. I do expect if the idea should catch on, that some of those conversations would find their way to Facebook and other electronic media. Most ordinary people have common sense — it’s the way they survive, and none of us like the way politicians bicker to satisfy the lobbyists who work for the big corporations who supply the money for campaigns.
I read a piece in the BDN a few days ago about a study someone had done to see how long democracies survive, and it didn’t look good for ours.
We’re tottering on the brink.
People who lose interest in voting because they feel disenfranchised by the power of lobbyists paid by corporations spend their time on cellphones and other entertainment to the exclusion of involvement in the process, another version of Aldous Huxley’s “soma.”
If you become acquainted with the rules under which Congress operates, you will understand that those rules were formulated to allow bills to contain multiple unrelated issues to make it difficult to consider and vote on one issue at a time. That certainly conflicts with common sense and extends debate, which often results in negative votes, wasting precious time which should be spent considering one issue at a time, currently a problem with the funding bill for national security. How ridiculous can it get?
We are riding merrily along playing with our toys while the decline of our country becomes more and more likely. Writing OpEds and letters to the editor is kind of like opening a bottle of black flies in the halls of Congress, when we ought to toss in a beehive and let the bees do the job.
Edwin Treworgy of Milo is a retired teacher.