Tag Archives: Laws

Just Pass the Damn Bill!

Bill

Just Pass the Damn Bill!

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, several things have happened to wake up Americans. One of these things is our government’s inability to pass the damn bill! There is always bickering back and forth between the two political parties about their reason for and against most bills. The process is then drawn out, and it could take months for a “sensible” bill to become a law. It is what pisses me off about politics: they take too long to pass the damn bill!

In the midst of the debate over the merits of a bill, the political spin and gamesmanship takes center stage. Both Democrats and Republicans exchange shot after shot at each other, while an important piece of legislation hangs in the balance. It’s all a game, but do we really understand how the game is being played? The best way to explain it is with a simple example with a few exaggerations just to prove the point…

There is an intersection in your city without a stop sign. The street leads directly into a school zone. Cars speed through the intersection and a lot of drivers speed through the intersection, blow past the warning signs, and pass the school. One day, a crossing guard and a child got hit and killed by a motorist. Now the community wanted action to fix this problem. A local congressperson in the Orange Party decided to write a bill to pass a law to add stop signs at this dangerous corner and regulate speed in a new school zone.

Another congressperson in the Purple Party knows an owner of a liquor store chain. He donates money to her campaign and the Purple Party. The owner has an eye on opening a store on corner of that same intersection. He calls the congressperson about the store and reminds her of his generous donations. They will help her get reelected. Now the congressperson wants to add provisions in the stop sign bill that would allow the liquor store to open on the same corner. These are two totally separate issues, but somehow they are associated with the same bill.

The leaders of the Orange and Purple Party argue the merits of the bill. Eventually, they work out a compromise and both measures are included in the final version of the bill. Now it goes to a vote. Officials in the Orange Party want the stop signs, but can’t vote for the bill because of the liquor store. Since they have the majority, their votes override the members of the Purple Party, who favor building the store to satisfy their party member and her generous donor. Now that the bill has been defeated, the games begin. The Purple Party broadcasts the following outcome:

The Orange Party is anti-child safety because they voted against adding stop signs near a school zone!

Because the bill in this simple example is really 1400 pages long, (1350 of those pages are about the stop signs and 50 pages are about the liquor store), it is hard for the public to “see” why the Orange Party struck down the bill. It is also difficult for the Orange Party to refute the anti-child safety claim. The narrative sticks and the public blames the Orange Party every time another incident occurs at the intersection. Meanwhile, the Orange Party voted against the bill because it did not want a new liquor store near a school. At least they “won” that battle.

While this example is purposely far-fetched, it is a snapshot of what happens in our government. There is no such thing as what I call a “clean” bill: short, sweet, and to the point without extra provisions. In my opinion, they should vote on single-item bills. In our example, there could be two “clean” bills: one for the stops signs and another for the liquor store. Then we can get the votes, accept or reject each bill, and implement any laws that pass. Instead, we get 1400 page bills stuffed with pork: extra provisions that are added to satisfy all parties involved in the bill. The pork in our example is building the liquor store. Notice that the will of the community is never addressed after the problem is identified.

I am sure it is impractical to have “clean” bills because of sheer volume. Our representatives would be expected to read and understand all of those bills before they vote. By the way, a lot of them don’t read the 1400 page bills they vote on now anyway. Maybe writing short, “clean” bills a few pages long would change that fact. But I suspect they still wouldn’t read. Instead, they would continue to vote based on their party affiliation, while supporting their colleagues and donors, rather than doing what the community wants and needs.

There has to be a better way to pass the damn bill that someone much smarter than me can figure out. In the meantime, our only hope is to take more interest in what our officials vote for and the reasons they do it. If they hold to the party line or satisfy donors without helping to pass “sensible” legislation for us, then we should notate it, remember it, and vote their asses out during the next election cycle. It is much easier said than done, because they know we do not hold them personally accountable for their votes. We must take back our voting power and get our official to break the gridlock to get things done.

To our elected officials across the country:  just pass the damn bill!

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

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Hiding the Truth from Americans: I Wonder Why “They” Took Civics Out of the Curriculum

For those of you who don’t know, civics is the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the study of government and how it works (Dictionary.com). In our formal education, it is rare that students take a course in civics. Instead, they learn only sparse bits and pieces of information pertaining to how government works. This slice of education is usually buried in US History textbooks and only mentioned as it relates to certain episodes in our history. In other words, our students are not taught how our government works. They are not taught how politics work. They are not taught how laws are created. They are not taught civics.

Why should we learn civics?

Do you know how a bill becomes a law? Do you know who appoints federal judges? Do you know who your local representative in Congress is? If you don’t know the answers to these questions then you probably should learn civics, or at least engage in the political process. A civics course would have helped with the answers to these questions, while providing a basis for understanding the political discourse in our country. I know a lot of people will say this doesn’t interest them. That’s fine, but regardless of your interest level, politics and decisions made by our elected officials affects our everyday life.

If we had a better understanding of civics…

  • more people would vote in local, state and national elections
  • more people would demand action from our elected officials
  • more people would influence policy on a local level
  • more people would run for office

If civics affects our daily lives, then why did they take civics out of the classroom?

question mark

I do not necessarily believe in sweeping conspiracy theories, but I do believe in a slow, steady progress toward taking things away that are deemed unimportant or outdated. Civics is nether unimportant or outdated. So why have civics classes disappeared from our curriculum? I firmly believe civics is no longer taught in our schools because a certain percentage of the population must be kept in the dark about certain things. Another way of saying it is some people need to be uneducated. Uneducated people can be trained, molded, and pushed in a specific direction. They do not have the will or ability to resist.

As it relates the government and civics, many people do not know the basics of government and how it should work. Therefore (if) they vote they do so without having enough knowledge to make an educated decision about the people and policies that shape our cities, states, and nation. They do not even know the importance of their individual vote. They do not know their local politicians. They do not know local laws and statutes. On top of that, they do not have the will or ability to learn.

So here we are in 2018. The good news is a lot more people are waking up and learning more about politics and our elected officials. All of a sudden, people are aware of the President’s duty to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court. Those Justices interpret the legality of laws and can, in effect, overturn them if they are deemed unconstitutional. Don’t forget that these Justices have lifetime appointments, so their decisions could affect policy for 50 years!

Now we must take things a step further. Either we demand that our students are taught civics in schools again, or become interested enough to learn on our own. Without a few civics lessons, we will continue to see a slow, but steady growth of people unaware of the workings of our government and our elected officials. We will have more people unaware of how laws are created and passed. We will have more people unaware of who their representatives are. We will have more people unaware of how government and politics affect their daily lives.

I Wonder Why “They” Took Civics Out of the Curriculum? Is it to hide the truth?

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary is able to get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

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