On Monday, Senators from across the country, mostly our GOP friends, decided to block the proposed Buffet Rule from even entering debate on the Senate floor. The proposed bill would require anyone making $1 million or more to pay a minimum of 30% in federal taxes. Conversely, poll numbers indicate that 7 out of 10 Americans are in favor of such legislation. That nagging 30% of people who are not in favor is slightly disconcerting, but that’s another issue.
This action by elected Senators offers a fine example of how democracy doesn’t always work so well. These 100 men and women get elected by the citizens of their states to represent their interests in Congress and to make decisions for the good of the American people. Senators and representatives should represent the interests of the electorate through their voting and their support of certain measures. I’m relating this back to the idea of privilege that I discussed in the last blog post. Our elected friends seem to be losing touch with the electorate more and more each election cycle. Democracy worked a little better when the gaps in the American experience weren’t quite so large. At least that’s my perception from 20 or so years of personal awareness and from studying American history.
How can the gap in experience and understanding begin to shrink? Who should we elect to hold these offices? Do we need more representation so that viewpoints on issues can be more differentiated and actually represent the experience of the electorate? Does bigger, broader government cause a better system of checks and balances? I have a sinking feeling that the answer to the last question is “no,” but it might not hurt to entertain the idea as a way to get to something better than what we have now.