Column: Our tone deaf Congress

Jerry Kermer

The distance between New York and Washington D.C. is 227 miles.

But the more you watch the actions or inaction of the U.S. Congress, the more it seems like Congress is on Mars and we are on another planet.

Day by day and hour by hour, it has become abundantly clear that most of the members of the U.S. Congress are as detached from reality as any group I have ever followed.
This reality gap doesn’t apply to all of the members of the Long Island congressional delegation, because I believe that most of the local representatives can be very proud of their service and have the voting records to prove it.

But one has to wonder what the rest of the U.S. Congress is doing on behalf of the taxpayers of America on any given day?

Every Tuesday the Congress meets and it might as well be Friday, which is the day they go home.

Oh, yes, between Tuesday and Friday they hold fundraising events and attend committee meetings, mostly in the hope of getting their faces on the nightly television shows.
At the local level, voters have no idea how their representative voted on any issues.

Once upon a time, the daily newspapers would have a box with the summary of the votes cast by the New York members but those days are gone.

The only time you hear about an incumbent’s voting record is when their opponent highlights it during a campaign. And most of the time those votes are distorted for political gain.
I could pick out a dozen items that show the indifference of many Congress members to the people back at home, but I will confine my remarks to a few.

Probably the worst example of a total disconnect with real life is the current controversy about gun laws.

To start with possibly as many as 45 percent of the majority party members are wholly owned by the National Rifle Association.

These members are so tone deaf that if their entire neighborhood was wiped out by an AK-47 attack they would, move to another community to avoid the issue.
In the aftermath of every mass shooting, the N.R.A. boosters will make up every excuse to avoid facing the issue of the death of innocents. Their reactions run the gamut from “let’s not make this into a political issue” or “it’s too early to determine what actions must be taken.”

I know that national polls are often only as good as the people who ask the questions, but there is no debate where America currently stands on the issue of guns.

Even Second Amendment supporters currently support better background checks, limits on the use of automatic weapons and more money for mental health facilities.
To show how big the disconnect is with state governments and the Congress, one only has to look at what is going on in Florida, which is the site of the latest carnage.

A Republican governor in a state that has the most pro-N.R.A. gun laws in the nation, is proposing background checks, a ban on the sale of guns to anyone under the age of 21 and extensive money for school safety.

Even though the Florida legislature has an “A” rating from the N.R.A., Gov. Scott is pushing for tough gun laws. It may be that he is a possible candidate for a U.S.Senate seat but if the N.R.A. runs Florida, he has embarked on a risky effort.
The next tone-deaf issue for the Republican leadership is the plight of the 800,000 “Dreamers,” who face possible deportation.

If it were up to House Speaker Paul Ryan the railroad trains and charter buses would be lining up to start a mass migration out of America.

The vast majority of the nation favors a path to citizenship for the innocents whose only failing is being born in this country to undocumented parents.

In between fundraising and occasional meetings, a block of Republican members pushes the same idea that giving Dreamers any help is “amnesty.”
When the great Long Island Congressman Steve Israel decided to retire, his friends and supporters questioned why such an influential member would step down.

The reality gap between Congress and the rest of America speaks to the wisdom of his decision.

About the author

Jerry Kermer

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