The U.S. Congress Turns on Itself: Censuring and Threats of Expulsion Proliferating
Recently there have been some appalling cases that underline how far the American Congress has separated itself from any tangible national interest.
Mark Twain once wrote that “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” Some developments over the past several weeks would certainly support that judgement if one regards a country’s legislative body as a mechanism intended to benefit the public that it is elected to serve. The hypocrisy of America’s two major parties is something to behold, with corruption at a level that is rarely attained in most third world countries.
Recently there have been some appalling cases that underline how far the American Congress has separated itself from any tangible national interest if one excludes getting rich and reelected, in whichever order one seeks to go about that. One of the best at getting rich and reelected in spite of not having two brain cells to rub together is the esteemed Maxine Waters of California, who has starred in her recent attempt to inspire an angry mob to get more “confrontational” if the murder trial of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin were to go the wrong way through a failure to convict.
Now bear in mind that we Americans live in a no-fault no-accountability society, where no one is guilty of anything unless he or she is caught red handed and has no protectors in place to deny that anything at all happened. As Maxine has plenty of defenders because she is black, a woman and, most of all, a Democrat, it should have been expected that in her case a call to riot by a congressman would be treated as a non-event, and so it proved when the GOP made a feeble attempt to censure her for her behavior.
As Maxine represents part of California, her appearance in Minnesota was little more than race baiting with a threat of violence thrown in. Attempts to characterize it as free speech on her part ignore the fact that she is a government official, paid for generously by the taxpayer, and a call to violence by one part of the citizenry directed against both the legal system and another constituency cannot be considered acceptable. It is indeed impeachable.
One has to wonder who paid for Waters’ Minnesota trip and marvel at her audacity when she asked for and received an armed police escort for her own safety as she traveled to and from the airport. Perhaps her calls to de-fund the police were on hold until after she completed her travels. It is also important to realize that due to the seniority afforded by her 29 years in office she is, in spite of her lack of anything describable as patriotism of even integrity, part of the House Democratic leadership. She’s Chief Majority Whip, has been the chairperson of the House Black Caucus, and is the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee. Never before has anyone attained so much having so little to offer.
But the story does not end there, which is where the true mendacity of the U.S. Congress comes to the surface. When the Republicans rightly attempted to censure Waters it was inevitable that the recent impeachment of President Donald Trump for the use of incendiary language when addressing a crowd at the Capitol on January 6th would come up, but the Democratic Party leadership was having none of that. The Hill reports that shortly before the Waters censure vote, rather than accepting that the two offenses were of a kind, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer instead delivered a threat, warning the Republican leadership that forcing a roll call on censuring Waters would make it more difficult to justify not taking similar action targeting Republican members of Congress. “This makes it harder, however, not to proceed on numerous [similar] resolutions on my side of the aisle” he said.
So the game is on under new rules. The leadership of the Democratic and Republican Parties have declared that they will impose punishment, including censure, suspension and even expulsion, on House and Senate members who defy the consensus on appropriate behavior, which itself has become heavily politicized.
The first Republican who is likely to feel the wrath of the Democratic controlled Congress is Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Representative Jimmy Gomez of California has already circulated a draft letter renewing his earlier effort to expel her from Congress. Gomez cited Greene for her alleged promotion of violence against other members of Congress. In his letter he included her promotion of “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” as yet another justification for her expulsion from Congress. The “Dear Colleague” letter begins with “[E]veryone – including House Republican leadership – knew this stunt was nothing more than an effort to promote white supremacy in the United States Congress.” He, of course, also claimed that she was engaged in the “brazen promotion of anti-Semitism and racism.” Somehow the anti-Semitism tag always seems to make it into these documents.
Gomez’s expulsion resolution already has 72 Democratic co-sponsors. House Democrats as well as 11 Republicans had already voted in February to strip Greene of her committee assignments over her alleged past endorsements of violence against Democrats and embrace of conspiracy theories to include suggesting that some mass shootings have been staged.
Greene, for her part, has tit for tat submitted a resolution to expel Waters based on her encouraging supporters to harass Trump administration officials when they made public appearances in 2018 while also saying a year earlier that she would “go and take Trump out tonight. “This is nothing new from Maxine Waters. She has been inciting violence and terrorism for the last 29 years,” Greene said in a statement.
Despite the current wave of lawmakers introducing measures to formally sanction each other, it seldom occurs that the House actually takes such a drastic step. Only 23 lawmakers have been censured in the House’s history and only five were expelled, mostly for actual criminal behavior. Nevertheless, the new environment condoning punishment of colleagues in Congress is only just gaining momentum and the Democrats clearly have the whip hand with their control of both houses of Congress and the presidency. To be sure, free speech is the most important liberty guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States, but the right of legislators to call on citizens to break the law up to and including the destruction of that very government that pays them and gives them their status has to be challenged. Say what they will when they are out of office, but when they take that oath of loyalty to the constitution it means that they are pledged to support all of those structures and safeguards that that foundational document has established.