Let’s Do Away with Political Parties

Political parties are like gangs.

“Impeach the president!” everyone shouts. Well, heaven knows there are plenty of reasons to do so. But it seems as though many Americans have no idea what impeachment truly means.

Here’s what it does not mean: bye-bye Trump. Nope. Impeachment is what the House of Representatives does to bring charges against a federal employee. It’s like being indicted by a grand jury. Bill Clinton was impeached. But he remained president. Nixon, on the other hand, was never actually impeached. He resigned before the house voted.

Once impeached, the person remains in office. The next step is the trial. That’s conducted by the Senate. The Senate at the time did not find Clinton guilty, and the majority republican Senate today would not find Trump guilty. I guarantee it.

Because, you see, elected officials rarely vote on the facts or their conscience. They vote along party lines. It’s really rather disgusting when you think about it. The truth has nothing to do with it. Morality has nothing to do with it. For example, I’d like to assume that every human being would be against pedophilia. But political pedophiles are given a pass all the time.

The crux of the problem with our political system is that we allow political parties. They’re like gangs. You have to pick a side. You are either with us or against us. There’s no compromise.

There’s more strength in numbers. There’s more money in numbers. It’s easier to intimidate your fellow gang members to do what you want them to do in numbers. It’s easier to label someone as a friend or an enemy.

But what if everyone had to be an independent? What if all political funding came from the people, and there was a cap on the amount a politician could raise from an individual, and also in total? What if that cap were 10 percent of what is spent now? What kinds of people would then run for office? Not these rich fools who have absolutely no idea how most Americans live or what they care about. And once elected, they could actually focus on the task at hand, rather than desperately fundraising.

What if you had to judge a person not by their party but by their actions and the content of their character? What if it were a little less obvious who you should not work with, politically? What if you had to work on bills only with people who agree with you on that particular cause? What if there were no aisles to cross? What if there were no minority or majority leaders who were bullying you to vote a certain way?

Something to think about.

By the way, I also long for unicorns to roam our forests. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Should Congress Be Paid During a Shutdown?

If we suffer, they should suffer, too.

I was discussing this on Facebook recently. I find it rather outrageous that our President, along with Congress, can cause the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history, and not have to feel any of the pain themselves. Granted, 45 is a millionaire, as is 25% of the House and 50% of the Senate, so they probably wouldn’t feel it very much. But if you’re going to turn thousands of people into unpaid slaves, and thrust even more into financial destitution, all for your own political douchebaggery, then you ought to pay some sort of price.

It does turn out that Congress has completely separate fiscal funding for a very good reason. This was put into place so that the executive branch couldn’t force Congress into compliance by withholding its pay. It was all about separation of powers. This applies to the judicial branch as well. That makes perfect sense to me.

However, I think we need to make it a requirement that Congress and the White House can’t force We, the People, into compliance by withholding our pay, too. They shouldn’t be able to make the nation suffer without suffering themselves.

We need to only elect people who are willing to agree not to draw a salary whenever the government is unfunded. Congress could also do this with a simple resolution. I suspect you’d see some very different motivation if that were the case.

I also think that if Congress and the President are going to get us involved in wars on foreign soil, thus forcing a percentage of our children into battle zones, then a certain percentage of their children should have to go as well. This could be done in a special draft system.

And if you’re going to vote that things like waterboarding aren’t torture, then you should first have to experience it once yourself, right in the capital rotunda. And politicians should also have to drink the same water as the citizens of Flint, Michigan, and eat the same lunch as the average elementary school student. Fair’s fair.

I’m sick and tired of these politicians sitting up there on some protected cloud of privilege while they have the potential to make life miserable for the rest of us.

(A special thanks to my friend Areiel for helping me flesh out my thinking about this idea.)

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Political Pomposity

Well, it’s official. Global warming is not a hoax. So says the senate. So say we all. What a relief. Before they made their pronouncement, none of us could be sure. Pffft.

An even bigger relief (not) is that they voted that human activity has not impacted climate change. Yay! We can all keep our SUVs!

These people are supposed to be our leaders. And yet they’re way behind the rest of us. By about 100 years. History will not look kindly upon them. In fact, they’ll be bitterly laughed at by our progeny.

And here’s a good question: What makes the senate think they are so important that they even have the right to be voting on such topics? Next they’ll be declaring that the world isn’t flat after all, and that the earth, in fact, does revolve around the sun. Politicians, please don’t think that your petty pronouncements actually impact the facts in any way, shape, or form. You’re not that special.

A friend recently reminded me of the Indiana Pi Bill. In 1897 the august politicians of that great state attempted to introduce legislation that would, among other things, declare that the value of pi was 3.2. What an embarrassment to the human race. And what a monumental waste of time.

It just makes you want to crawl into bed with a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

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[Image credit: hidden-scars.com]

The Right to Breathe

When I was about 11 years old, a guy that had a crush on my sister went swimming with us. He was about 18, and his hormones were such that I’m sure he viewed me as a nuisance, just another obstacle blocking his path to the Promised Land. At one point my sister went off to get a snack or take a bathroom break or something, and this boy, who was sitting on the edge of the pool as I was clinging to the side in the deep end, put his hand on top of my head and pushed me under the water and locked his elbow.

I still remember this vividly– watching all my air bubble past my face, feeling my lungs spasm, hearing myself making primal animal-like noises underwater as I struggled and kicked and thrashed and panicked and clawed at his hand  and desperately tried to get to the surface. I got tunnel vision, and the tunnel kept getting darker and darker and smaller and smaller. It felt like it lasted for an eternity. I have never been so terrified or felt so helpless in my entire life. I still have nightmares based on that experience.

Finally he let go of my head because my sister was coming back. I burst to the surface, coughing and gasping and crying hysterically. He laughed. Given his reaction, and her assumption that I tended toward the dramatic, my sister didn’t take the situation at all seriously. I went home crying, and my mother didn’t take it seriously either. But looking back at it from an adult perspective, I’m quite certain that little weasel could have killed me that day. Thank God my sister came back when she did or things could have been quite different. He laughed.

There is nothing worse than not being able to breathe. Nothing. The fact that my boyfriend died all alone while most likely struggling to breathe is something I’ll never get over. I used to help him through his asthma attacks, and the worst part about it was the panic in his eyes. But that last, most critical time, I wasn’t there. He died alone in his truck, clutching his rescue inhaler.

So when I hear Republicans say that waterboarding isn’t torture, or that it’s justified torture, I take it kind of personally. Everyone should have the right to breathe. I don’t think these people understand the waterboarding concept at all. It’s simulated drowning. It’s the same as being held under water. Your air passages fill with water. And when you try to struggle toward the “surface”, that surface is covered in wet cloth.

I once saw an episode of Strangers in Danger where one of the hosts volunteered to be waterboarded to see what it was like. He lasted about 3 seconds, and when he sat up, he looked terrified. He said it was much worse than he thought.

I think every politician who says waterboarding isn’t torture should have to experience it, right in the middle of the rotunda of the House of Representatives. Call it a practical experiment. I strongly suspect that they’d change their minds about the practice right then and there. End of freakin’ debate.

According to The Guardian, a winner of the Pulitzer prize, the recently released Senate report on the torture committed by the CIA includes this description:

“At times Abu Zubaydah was described as ‘hysterical’ and ‘distressed to the level that he was unable effectively to communicate’. Waterboarding sessions ‘resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms’ and ‘hysterical pleas’. In at least one waterboarding session, Abu Zubaydah ‘became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth’ … Abu Zubaydah remained unresponsive until medical intervention, when he regained consciousness and ‘expelled copious amounts of liquid’.”

The Guardian further stated: The CIA doctor overseeing the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that the prisoner was ingesting so much water that he or she was no longer concerned that regurgitated gastric acid was likely to damage his oesophagus. But, the doctor warned, the CIA should start using saline, because his electrolytes were becoming too diluted.

My first thought is, what kind of a doctor would participate in that sort of treatment? Whatever happened to “first, do no harm”? And he or she was being paid with our tax dollars.

That there is even a question in any civilized human being’s mind that this treatment is torture makes me weep for humanity. And that’s but one of the grisly tales in that report. Standing on broken limbs, rectal rehydration, sleep deprivation, beatings, detainment in coffin-sized boxes, and hypothermia are only the tip of the iceberg. If this is what we are capable of as a society, then all is truly lost. I’m sickened.

But I’m hardly one to talk. What happened to that 18 year old boy who tried to drown me? He stopped coming around for some reason. It probably had something to do with the fact that he stopped by to visit my sister one day when I was the only one home, and I kicked him so hard in the stomach that I actually felt my toes going underneath his rib cage. As he stood doubled over, gasping for air, I quietly shut the door. I never saw him again.

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[Image credit: fitsnews.com]

Practical Experience

Politicians make decisions every day that affect people’s lives. With great power comes great responsibility. When they negatively impact the world around them, I think they should personally feel that impact as well. Maybe then they would take their choices more seriously.

Governors of states that have chosen to forego the Medicaid subsidies, thus depriving millions of their health coverage, should cancel their own health coverage too.

Don’t think waterboarding is torture? Prove it. Experience it firsthand right there on the Senate floor.

Choosing to send thousands off to war? Send your own children. They should be first in line.

Supporting fracking? Offer up your own back yard for such treatment.

Against abortion and Planned Parenthood? By all means, adopt a crack baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Refusing to support the arts? Then everything within your field of vision, for the rest of your life, should be gunmetal grey.

Criminalizing casual marijuana use? Report to my office for your hair follicle test immediately.

Caught in a lie? Corporal punishment shall be meted out on camera in the Capitol rotunda.

Tempted to shut down the government? 5 minutes alone in a locked room with a grizzly bear from Yellowstone Park should take care of that.

Want to take away people’s pensions or Social Security? Yours should go, too, then.

Against immigration? Unless you’re an American Indian, get out.

Refusing to hold tobacco companies accountable? We’ll be happy to pump smoke into your home and office for the rest of your foreshortened life.

Don’t want to raise the minimum wage? Then the current one is now your salary.

Not taking steps to help the environment? May you only drink water from the Love Canal, breathe air from Beijing, and live on waterfront property on one of the islands that is sinking below the rising sea.

Refusing to sign off on a budget? Cough up your credit cards forthwith. Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of them.

As long as there are children in this country going without food, may you starve.

As long as there are people sleeping on park benches, may you never experience the comfort of a roof or a mattress again.

And for every false political ad that you choose to subject us to, may you be forced to watch 100 hours of Barney back to back.

Government without accountability ought to be a crime, and voting the bad politicians out should be a moral imperative.

Accountability

[Image credit: ACLU.org]