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Liking Ones Congressman, Hating Congress

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During congressional elections, Americans usually vote for their favorite representatives. As part of the long-cherished democratic process in the United States, the participation of every American voter in an election signifies their trust and confidence in the principle of suffrage as the most effective mode to change or perpetuate an existing political system. In most cases, they vote for or reelect their respective member of Congress, but they usually express their dislike and distrust in Congress.

The American media have different types of coverage or editorial treatment of various issues concerning the United States Congress. For example in 2006, CNN, one of the largest media organizations in the world, reported that one in two Americans, or 49 percent, believed that most members of this governmental body are corrupt. This perception is no longer debatable and questionable as the Congress and its members are being scrutinized everyday by various media organizations.

Several striking allegations that bribery, corruption and unethical practices are rampant in Congress are no longer surprising, because these issues are being closely monitored by various media institutions. An online article published in American Chronicle alleged that most members of Congress have been bought by large corporations in order for them to ignore crucial health care and financial reforms (Lindner).

Several media organizations have also reported about massive lobbying activities in Congress, wherein multinational corporations engaged in defense, telecommunications, automobile, railroads, pharmaceuticals, health insurance, and health care, among many others use their economic power to influence the decisions of the members of Congress. In Congress, lobbying is one way to favor or reject a particular cause or issue.

Another giant media organization exposed how corporate lobbying affects the decisions of elected congressmen. It was reported that big companies, particularly those in auto industry, spend millions of dollars on lobbying (Attkisson). This lobbying practice shows that people in this government institution can be bought even at the expense of the interest of the people who voted for them.

There is no doubt that media coverage has enormous effect on the perceptions and beliefs of voters toward Congress. However, there are still a lot of American voters who still believe in their own representatives. One of the most respected members of Congress in the United States is Texas representative Ron Paul who ran for president in the last presidential election. Paul was first elected in Congress in 1978 and was consequently reelected in 1980 and 1982. Several members of Congress were reelected despite the fact that a considerable number of American voters continue to distrust this legislative institution.

The function of the U.S. Congress is based on the Constitution. Unlike the executive and judicial branches, the U.S. Congress is the legislative arm of the government, which means it is tasked with making laws in accordance with its constitutional mandate. This is perhaps the reason why members of Congress are prone to corruption and bribery, because they make laws that could affect individuals and businesses. Since the Congress has the absolute power to enact laws, by analogy it also has the authority to make laws in favor or against some groups or business sectors.

The Congress has its own personality that is distinct from that of its members. This is the reason why people have different views of this institution. A representative is just a member of Congress, which means that the majority decision or the required number of votes for a particular cause or issue determines the stand and action of this legislative institution.

Today several issues are being tackled by members of Congress, such as the proposal to establish universal healthcare system, to regulate businesses and to polish the image of the United States abroad. These issues are not confined to the power of the president, as they require the concurrence of Congress. This practice is in line with the long-standing principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.

Works Cited:

Attkisson, Sharyl. “Big Three Spending Millions on Lobbying.” 03 Dec. 2008. CBS News.

28 July 2009 <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/12/03/cbsnews_investigates/main4646424.shtml>

CNN. “Poll: Half Believe Congress is Dirty.” 03 Jan. 2006. CNN Online Edition. 28 July

2009 <http://edition.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/01/03/poll.congressimage/index.html>

Lindner, Bill. “Corporately Owned Congress Blocking the Way for Meaningful Reform.” 26

June 2009. America Chronicle. 28 July 2009 <http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/107790>

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