We Need a New Congress More than a New President

As is to be expected, almost everyone in the United States, and indeed worldwide, is following the presidential campaign. As you know, the campaign features a bland candidate on the Democratic side against a candidate on the Republican side who appears to not be completely sane. I think the choice of our next president is very important, especially given Donald Trump’s ignorance of how politics work, but even if Hillary Clinton is elected, little is likely to be accomplished. Our real problem isn’t the president; it’s Congress.

Barack Obama has a high favorability rating, but he has only been able to accomplish a fraction of what he set out to do. He did get the Affordable Health Care passed, but now that we have some experience with it, it is obvious that the program requires some improvements. The Republican majority in Congress absolutely refuses to do anything to improve it.

Our public infrastructure is decaying. Roads and streets are full of cracks and potholes, bridges occasionally collapse, and our public transportation system is woefully inadequate. However, the Republican majority in Congress refuses to do fund any improvements. Fixing the infrastructure would require raising taxes on the super rich, the very people that Republicans depend upon for campaign funds. Some economists believe that our economy would grow much faster if Congress would just get off its duff and get to work.

I spend a fair amount of time in Western Europe each year. Recently, I’ve been spending most of that time in Spain. Spain has still not recovered from the economic crisis and has an unemployment rate above 20 percent. Yet compared to streets, roads, and highways in the United States, those in Spain are smooth and well maintained. Large cracks and potholes are rare. Passenger trains roll along at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour. In comparison, infrastructure in the United States looks like that of Mexico 20 years ago.

If Donald Trump wins the presidential election, it probably doesn’t matter much who occupies Congress. Nothing will get done in any case, because Donald Trump has shown great ignorance about how the system works. However, even if Hillary Clinton is elected, little is likely to be done unless American voters elect politicians to Congress who have the interest of our country at heart.

When you prepare to vote, please don’t just think of the presidential candidates. Take a look at your Congressional representatives. Have they been working for the benefit of the United States and its inhabitants, or are they obstructionists whose only purpose is to keep anything from being done?