What Congress is Doing
Here are a couple examples of alarming things that were happening during the Bush Administration that we did not know or would never have found out about until we had Congressional Oversight:
FBI Abuses of Spying – This should send chilling reminders of COINTELPRO
Attorney General firing judges who pursued corruption investigations against Republicans
Here are a few things that could possibly have been prevented if there had been Congressional Oversight before this year:
The Democrats are now the Majority Party in the Senate and the House of Representatives, due to the result of the elections this past November. Now that they have been in for a couple of months (they were elected in November 2006 but not officially sworn in until 4 Jan 2007), you are beginning to see some differences in how things are working.
The act of exposing and acting as a check and balance within the government is called oversight (when done by Congress, it is Congressional Oversight). That is something we haven’t seen since 2000. What this means is that there is now one branch that can look over the shoulder of the other two. There is someone there to hit the brakes on crazy or dangerous governmental intentions. There is a way now for people to be able to see what is happening in our government and not be stonewalled in the name of national security or not needing to know.
A concept key to how our government works is called Checks and Balances. This basically means that each branch of government (in the U.S., the branches are: Executive (President), Legislative (Senate & House), Judicial (Supreme Court)) has a way to keep the other branches in check and keep power evenly balanced between the branches. If all three branches of government are operating checking and balancing one another, no one branch should dominate the other two. When this is not case, it can lead to terrible things.
Since 2000 when G. W. Bush took office, we have been experiencing governance without checks and balances. The Republican-led Congress laid down for whatever the Republican President said or demanded. The conservative-leaning Supreme Court, which installed Bush, also sat by idly. That changed with the 2006 election, and now we have a situation where there is a Republican President and a conservative Supreme Court, but there is a Democratic House and Senate, meaning that we are no longer effectively a one-party system.
This is important to understand because understanding how and why things happen the way they do is key to understanding how to make things happen in ways that we want. I believe that we are only scratching the surface when it comes to all of the shady stuff we may find out about that has been going on over the past 6 years. I am also afraid that it will take longer for the Democrats to undo what it only took the Republicans 6 years to do. Thank God they have started down this long road.
So the next time that you or someone asks, “What’s this Congress doing?” You can say, “Their Job.”