Congress. Who is it good for?
We’re going to lead you the swamp water, but you’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not you want to ingest it.
This is not going to be a civics lesson. It is merely a peek into the work and workings of the federal government through the lens of the activities of three Florida participants: Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Congressman Scott Franklin.
Franklin is only one of 29, but Scott and Rubio are all we’ve got.
For an insight into where we are going, I offer this anecdote:
Years ago, when the internet was newer and shinier, my older sister thought I, as an IT guy, might know the answer to a technology question:
“What”, she asked, “does http stand for?”
I was happy to have the opportunity to deliver some of my professional knowledge and cheerfully replied: “hypertext transfer protocol”.
“Well”, she said, “if you don’t want to tell me, just don’t!”
Therein lies a nugget of sad truth. Complexity does not yield to simple explanation. Sausage making. Teenagers. Gravity. All are easier to fathom than the machinations of the U.S. Congress. Sooo … please follow along as well as you can and as your time and energy permit.
The Senate currently has 320 legislative bills in the hopper, moving through committees. Of those, Scott is a sponsor on 30 of them and Rubio is listed on 39. The House is considering 1,420, with Franklin signed onto 11.
In each case, the workload represents 3.2 bills per chamber member, with more to come. Most of these will not ever be voted on. Many are introduced to appease a particular constituency. Much of this is pandering and posturing. Almost none of it is representation for the good of the populace. But you can see that for yourself by reviewing a most useful tool - perhaps the most useful tool - provided by the federal government itself.
Here it is all laid out in the most straightforward way possible. The data is real, true, complete, informative, and regularly updated. If you choose one of the links associated with our Washington contingent on the website - TheCityZenShip.org/the-congress - you will find the top of the most current list of their activity which can lead you to the congress.gov website for a complete one. You can use the search, sort, and filter tools to home in on what matters to you, or might matter to to you.
You can get alerts to any changes to a bill you are watching:
Now, on the subject of what might matter to you, each of them, and all their colleagues, publishes a list of issues for you to select from. It is sometimes presented as a constituent survey presumably intended to guide the public servants in their service to the public.
Here is Scott Franklin’s:
[ ]National Security
[ ]Veterans’ Issues
[ ]Small Business
[ ]Strengthening our Economy
[ ]Federal Spending
[ ]Transportation and Infrastructure
[ ]Cutting Regulations
[ ]Budget and Government Spending
[ ]Homeland Security
[ ]Border Security
[ ]Flood Insurance
[ ]Environmental Issues
[ ]Other (please specify)
Who couldn’t find a winner here? These are all important and deserve attention and consideration. These are not what he is working on.
Of the 11 bills he has co-sponsored, seven are measures intended to restrict or impede legal abortion. Seven of eleven. Not on the list. Is this why you voted to send him to Washington? To re-assess and re-litigate the law of the land? If your answer is “yes” that only means that you are but a fraction of the 700,000 citizens he has sworn to serve. There is no evidence whatsoever that more than a tiny number of them (us) are focused on making legal abortion more difficult than it already is.
But this is what he is doing.
Along with cheerleading of course. Franklin’s Facebook page regularly reminds us of things we already know, like: It’s Black History Month and we owe so much to Black Americans this month, and Happy Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard, and how proud he is to visit his supporters, and Happy Presidents Day, and Happy Valentine’s Day, and on and on.
All of this fits nicely with the fact that the U.S. government - along with the states - has abandoned its moral compass in favor of a scoreboard. The only thing missing are pom-poms. Scott Franklin's voting record can be as easily predicted as the sunrise. He will never join a Democrat majority against his Republican teammates. Never.
Citizenship is a do-it-yourself project.
Until and unless our elected representatives actually reach out to find out what we need and want, we are stuck with them and the guidance systems provided by active and energetic special interests. This can be corrected with regular contact through their official channels.
If you don’t do it, they will. How’s that working for you?