Do you think that Congress is failing America & how would you go about getting congress back on the right track?Do you think that Congress is failing America & how would you go about getting...

Do you think that Congress is failing America & how would you go about getting congress back on the right track?

Do you think that Congress is failing America & how would you go about getting congress back on the right track?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a loaded question.  I think that it will be moved to the "Discussions" section fairly soon.  There are several implications in the question that might need to be examined.  The first is the most evident one that the relationship that Congress has with America is solely based on success or failure.  If this is the case, I think that there has to be clear distinction as to what defines one or the other. Along those lines, I think that a further exploration as to what Congress' role is would be warranted.  Certainly, Congress has passed legislation, and that is one of its primary functions as defined in the Constitution.  There can be discussion as to if the legislation has failed America, but I think that it's too early to detect this.  Additionally, the second question presumes guilt in Congress' ineffectiveness.  It sort of undermines the first question because the idea of "getting back on the right track" presupposes its on the wrong track.  I think that clearer definition and distinction is going to be needed in assessing the role of Congress.  Final point I would make would be the time frame of this "wrong" track assertion.  I don't see a complete reversal in Congress' actions over the last two years with the two that preceded it.  I think that a time frame is going to be needed in order to assess Congress' successes or failures.  I don't think that the question is out of order, as the upcoming midterm elections are being seen as a referendum on Congress, in general.  Yet, if we are going to engage in a serious examination of the Legislative Branch, more clarification and definition will be needed or it will devolve into a series of monologues spouting off political cliches that have been generated through partisanship and not a real and substantive examination of issues.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not agree with the idea that more turnover would help Congress.  If you have that many new faces coming in every term, you will have a bunch of people who have no knowledge of their own about what is going on and about how to work Congress.  This would give even more power to the interest groups since they would be there to "help" all the new members of Congress who are in over their heads.

If I could do anything I wanted to change Congress, I would make it more parliamentary -- I would want to have one party control Congress (rather than having the two houses be split at times) and I would want the parties to have a lot of control over their members.

The reason I want that is because I want Congress to be able to relatively easily pass laws and I want to know what those laws will be.  I want the parties to come out before the election and say "we'll pass these laws if we get elected."  Then if they do get elected, I want them to be able to pass those laws.  Once they pass those laws, we will be able to tell whether they worked or not -- no blaming the other party for not allowing them to pass the laws they wanted, etc.

We need it to be easier for us to know who is to blame and for it to be easier for our votes to lead to specific changes we want.  I think more power on the part of the parties would help.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with some of the previous posts, although I don't know what expensive weddings have to do with Congress fulfilling its duty or not, or that reading "The Federalist Papers" would make me an expert on what the Founding Fathers intended.  The Constitution is a guideline written over two centuries ago that must be interpreted according to today's realities, or at least that's what President John Adams, a prominent Federalist, believed.  It's based on the Elastic Clause, also known as the "Necessary and Proper" Clause.

I would take the argument that Congress is not failing the country on its own.  We are also failing it.  We have a miserable voter turnout rate, and even fewer people actually educate themselves on issues and call or write their congressperson to ask for a specific vote or change.  So some members of Congress act the way they do in terms of corruption, or lack of representation, or irresponsibility, because we as citizens let them get away with it.  We already have a very effective form of term limits in this country: they're called elections.  We have elections every two years in this country for the entire House and one third of the Senate.  If they are failing us, why haven't we voted most of them out yet?

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to say, I don't think Congress is necessarily failing America.  America might be failing Congress.

Let me explain:  The current set up of both houses makes it imperative to get re-elected.  it means continuing to serve on important committees that mean more power for you, it means more pork for your district, it means more favors and kick-backs to you (let's not kid ourselves, this is how it works...) so a Congressman's main concern is getting re-elected, not necessarily acting in their constituency's best interests.

The founders, from what I've read, considered it important that about 3/4 of congress turn over each election.  Right now it isn't even 1/4 because of the huge advantage incumbents have during elections.

So if Americans decide that they are fed up with the way things are working, just vote against every incumbent, put a fresh new set of faces in there, shake things up.  Sure they will get bought just like every other politician, but it gets to be more and more expensive to have to keep buying the new guys every four years, so eventually it might make it a bit more functional.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the sense that Congress is employed by the American people and their salaries are paid for by taxpayers, then yes, they are failing us.  Both parties are guilty of wasting taxpayer money for pet projects that they hope will get them reelected or that will result in campaign funding.  Similarly, many members of Congress have taken on superior attitudes, making comments that they don't have time to read the bills that they vote on or that they understand better than we do what is going on.  Those comments do not serve them well or the American people, because they demonstrate a disconnect between what Congress's role is supposed to be and what it actually is right now.

To put Congress on the right track, I would begin with term limits.  Originally, that was the idea behind the Congress and the Senate--American citizens who were willing to serve the public for a period of time and then return to their lay positions once their service was done.  If serving in Congress were seen as just that--service--instead of a career, then perhaps Congress would be more effective.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would suggest they all read "The Federalist Papers" to see what exactly the founding fathers meant when they wrote the Constitution.  It is not about interpretation to meet their needs.  It is about a balance of power, with States Rights being considered first and foremost.  This is exactly why the Civil War issue of States' Rights and the Federal Government telling individual states what to do, how to do it, and when it should be done...not slavery, although that issue was made more prominent toward the end of the war. 

Term limits would also be nice.  Then, perhaps the people who are elected by the folks in their districts wouldn't be so quick to do others dirty and then turn around and give themselves huge raises. Perhaps they would actually fix what is broken with the government--social security, medicare, medicaid, the unemployment situation, etc.  I mean, there are multi-million dollar weddings going on and people in this country are losing their homes!  Something is drastically wrong with that picture.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If there's one thing I could change about Congress it would be to ensure it wasn't their only job.  They'd have to actually go back home to the people who sent them there, and they'd have to do something in terms of real work and a real job.  I know it's impractical and it would probably limit the pool of potential people who serve; however, it would help ensure some practicality and accountability to their constituents.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The biggest problem I see with Congress is greed.  I do not think Congressman should be paid as highly as some are paid.  When you look at the average salary of a teacher it is pretty obvious teachers do their jobs because they want to and wish to serve.  If more congressman had this attitude I think we'd be on the right track for positive change.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Term limits certainly would be a step in the right direction to making Congress more efficient and returning it to its original purpose. Words such as responsibility, privilege and sacrifice come to mind, but when you think of Congress today you definitely don't come up with these words. Term limits might move away from self-serving politicians - hopefully...

martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think Congress is failing America.  I think the problem is that members of Congress are more concerned with themselves than with the country.  All they seem to care about is raising money and getting reelected.  Perhaps they should read John Kennedy's book Profiles in Courage and then begin working to improve this country.