Why Congress Can't 'Congress'

Why Congress Can't 'Congress'

Reasons our government can't come together and some possible solutions
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It’s the 21st century, undoubtedly the most liberal time period in history, and yet we are more politically polarized than ever before. In a time where we have the first black president, same-sex marriage and abortion are legal, and medical marijuana is slowly becoming legal nationwide, one would expect that our political parties could reach a consensus and pass laws. However, this is not the case. In fact, we are so divided that our Congress has an 11 percent approval rating. Bummer, right?

Why is it that we are so open-minded and so tolerant, yet when it comes to passing a law we end up in a stalemate? I’ll start with two of the biggest reasons:

Reason #1: Democracy

Ironically, one of the reasons America is so divided is that we are a democracy. This can be good and bad. In a democracy, we have many factions, many parties, that represent the interests of the people. This is helpful because every one of us can have a say in what we believe is best for ourselves and best for the country. Democracy can also work against us, and can be quite detrimental. Because we have a multitude of views, it’s hard to come to an agreement. Say you are in an argument with your best friend and you are both debating on what the best cake is. You believe that there is no better cake than chocolate cake, and your friend believes there is no better cake than ice cream cake. Of course, you can always order a chocolate ice cream cake, but no, you want that chocolate cake. That’s the exact same problem we face today. People are so deeply rooted in their convictions, that they are unwilling to come to an agreement. This is one of the main reasons why our congress can’t decide on anything.

Reason #2: Special Interest groups control much of Washington

Whether you like it or not, our government is largely controlled by special interests. It is not a secret that many of our politicians are bought off by big corporations. These corporations finance politicians to influence politics to favor their businesses, as well as their own personal interests. This is an issue that many of our current political candidates are trying to change. Ironically, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, candidates on the polar sides of the spectrum, both agree that Wall Street shouldn’t control ‘Main Street America.’ They argue that if big money can’t be used to pay off politicians, our whole entire system would change and that politicians would serve the people rather than themselves.

Just the other day, President Obama announced his nominee for the Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and appointed Chief Judge Merrick Garland. In his nomination speech, the president mentioned that Garland has, “shown a rare ability to…persuade colleagues with wide-ranging judicial philosophies to sign onto his opinions.” The president hiring someone with bipartisan appeal shows how politicians might try to resolve the conflict and ineffectiveness in the current government.

But the very same day, Senator Mitch McConnell said that the Republican party won’t vote for the nominee until after the election. He argued that Obama nominated Garland to, “politicize it for the purpose of the election.” He also added that he believes the American people should have a say on who will fill the seat. Of course, it isn’t just the Republican party that is fully partisan, but they control both the house and the senate. So if they don’t vote for a justice that the president appoints until after the election, there won’t be one. This presents a major dilemma for the American people: if there is no ninth supreme court justice, how will be able to pass laws? The answer is we can’t. We need the judicial branch. Without that ninth justice, we can’t decide whether a law is unconstitutional or constitutional, and therefore, we can’t implement new policy. This can not only destroy Obama’s legacy, but put the lives of the American people in jeopardy and on the brink of disaster.

The Solution

Some argue that the most difficult, but most likely successful approach in solving these issues is to change the entire system. They want to create a system where big corporations have a limited say, and where everyone’s interest is put to the table. Even if they are right, it is highly unlikely for anything to happen in the foreseeable future. Coming up with an entirely new system of government is extremely challenging, and would probably take decades, if not centuries long. And if we can’t agree on anything, how could we agree on a new system? Perhaps it’s not the system that’s the problem, but some of the laws in it. In other words, we might need to change certain aspects of the system, but not the system itself.

As a result, there’s really only one way to go about these issues. That one way is compromise. It may sound cliché, because it is. But if both sides are willing to come to the table, there will be no more deadlock. If Merrick Garland is approved, we can pass laws. Finally, if big corporations have a limited amount of influence on politicians, their interests won’t be put ahead of the peoples’ interests. This will involve a change in some laws that both sides must agree on. For now, first and foremost, compromise needs to happen on both sides. Then, maybe one day, we can see a 99% Congress approval rating.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia
Cover Image Credit: The Libertarian Republic

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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