Every election cycle we vote for the candidates we believe to be the best choices (or the least-worse choices!) for Congress. The candidates with the most votes win. You might think that a House of Representatives and a Senate assembled from so many best-choice candidates would be awesome in its efficiency and productivity as they work for the voters and the good of the country. Or maybe not. Consider:
Over the past two or three decades Congress did not reform federal immigration law when Democrats controlled Congress, when Republicans controlled Congress, or when control was split between the two parties. Many of us would like to have secure borders, a reasonable path for immigrants to become citizens, and protection for immigrant families. One might conclude that our political parties have other, higher priorities than to reform federal immigration law to achieve such objectives. Or maybe the politicians believe the immigration mess somehow works to their advantage. Anyone for a game of political football?
Over the past two or three decades Congress did not clean up federal election law when Democrats controlled Congress, when Republicans controlled Congress, or when control was split between the two parties. Many of us would like to have elections that are secure and honest, avoid voter suppression, and avoid voter disenfranchisement. One might conclude that our political parties have other, higher priorities than to reform federal election law to achieve such objectives. Or maybe the politicians believe the election mess somehow works to their advantage. People joke about dead people voting in Chicago, and those jokes have roots in reality!
On the most basic level, Congress is responsible to pass the annual budget for the US government. You might say that if Congress had just one most fundamental job, passing the annual budget would be that job. The budget sets priorities, reflects values, and affects and implements policies. Yet according to Pew Research, Congress has never completed more than four of its twelve annual appropriations bills on time in any year since 1997. Almost every year, instead of passing a budget through the regular process (that Congress defined for itself), they instead pass a budget in the form of continuing resolutions or omnibus bills. More often than not, the omnibus bills are too big to read before voting, and all kinds of special interests hide in the verbiage. Think of them as bugs sucking nutrients from your garden, except that these special interests are bugs sucking money from the budget, which means from the taxpayers. One might conclude that our political parties have other, higher priorities than to develop and pass an annual budget. Or maybe the politicians believe the budget mess works to their advantage. Regardless, year after year, they shirk what is arguably their most fundamental job.
At this point you might wonder if we could sue Congress for malpractice, since it is clear that they do not do their job. However, a successful lawsuit for malpractice needs to be able to point to a competent practice as a benchmark for comparison. Yet, as Mark Twain’s Blue Jay Yarn, a humorous commentary on human nature, notes, “A jay hasn’t got any more principle than a Congressman.” It looks like we have not had a benchmark of competence for at least 150 years.
The situation is discouraging, but we can have hope for something much better. This hope does not come from Congress or elections, though. Psalm 146:3-4 advises, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” Instead, Psalm 146:5-6 describes our sure alternative when it says, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.” God’s children are sojourners in this world, with lasting citizenship under God’s rule.
2 thoughts on “Sue for Malpractice?”
One of my favorite posts of yours, Dad.
Thanks! Glad you enjoy it.