Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (1st Amendment, United States Constitution)
Two days before many of us celebrated our nation’s birthday and the freedom it represents, one of the duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives gave us a clown show that has caused many to wonder how or why she was ever elected in the first place.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida provided the most entertaining moment of a week filled with accusations, innuendo, and perhaps spin, regarding conditions in the immigrant detention centers that are manned by the United States Border Patrol. Wilson led a delegation of congressional representatives through the facility in Homestead, Florida and following their tour, said this. “Those people who are online making fun of members of Congress are a disgrace and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable (sic),” Wilson said during a press conference. “We are going to shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted.”
Regardless of political affiliation or opinions on current affairs, the Congresswoman from Florida displayed an amazing ignorance of our Constitution and its very first amendment, which was ratified in 1791, four years after the creation of the original supreme law of the United States.
This is not the first time that elected members of the U.S. Congress have recently given us reason to marvel at the electoral process, and question how it has gotten to the place it is. The answer to the question is perhaps quite simple. United States citizens have, rather than electing qualified candidates, chosen to support activists instead. Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle articulated this when she wrote (regarding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), “If she weren’t a comely and personable young woman with a flair for left-wing organizing, Ocasio-Cortez wouldn’t be a member of Congress, and no one would care whether she spouted nonsense.”
There is more, of course, but the point has been made. Elections and congressional action seem to no longer be about constituents (the will of the people), but more about power, money, and party politics. We can’t even pretend this is something new; it’s been part of the game since politics became politics. It just seems that right now, this kind of “representation” has become the rule rather than the exception.
There is however, a new focus since 2016, the destruction of the office of POTUS. There are those at the highest and most powerful levels of government who have leveled their focus on ensuring that Donald Trump fails. One would appear unenlightened if he were to suggest the President and his choices are white as snow, but there seems to be little if any consideration to the blowback that would occur were POTUS dethroned, especially while in office.
The point is this. You and I, representatives of Congress, our children, and the President of the United States simply need to give more consideration to our words and actions, and be accountable for them. Personal accountability, it seems, is no longer considered a moral attribute, but a low-level chore that can be taken care of at a later time. History has shown us that when there are no consequences for our choices of words or actions, social and political chaos evolves.
We need a grassroots campaign that will lead to a change in the mindset and behavior of our country’s leaders. We can’t depend on it happening on Capitol Hill. It has to start in us.
When the full-time effort of our lawmakers becomes spewing hate and vitral rather than focusing on the will of their constituents, the outflow looks eerily similar. Regular people – even children – begin to mimic both the rhetoric and the behaviors. But when the leaders say things like, “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right,” (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), it is easy to see that we have a long, long way to go.