Lawmakers should be honest all of the timeBy Chandler Gory | 11/01/2017 8:25pm
Members of Congress spend half their time on Capitol Hill squabbling with their colleagues and pretending to get things done. They spend the other half schmoozing with donors as they grovel for money to fund their never-ending reelection campaigns.
The Framers designed our seemingly rapid election system to guarantee that lawmakers are held accountable and serve the people. It’s a system where "we the people" can remove ineffective members of Congress through elections.
Too bad the Framers didn’t anticipate our modern-day election system – a system built on piles of money and special interest groups. The constant need to appease donors and interest groups means that lawmakers are effectively silenced, unable to speak out and share their true opinions. The only way members of Congress can actually put aside the politics and share their own opinions is if they’re free from the shackles of an election.
Recently, two Republican Senators have thrown in the towel. Both Sen. Bob Corker (TN) and Sen. Jeff Flake (AZ) announced that they were retiring at the end of their terms. Flake gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor that took direct shots at President Trump and the state of the Republican Party. At the conclusion of his speech, it became abundantly clear that Flake was ready to speak his mind.
Corker, or "Liddle’ Bob Corker" as Trump likes to call him, has been increasingly uncensored in the past few weeks. Last month he fired off a 116-character tweet that effectively catapulted him into the upper echelons of the Trump resistance:
“It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Succinct, just the right amount of humor to catch people’s attention – the perfect tweet. When asked recently if he regretted supporting Trump in 2016, Corker told CNN’s Manu Raju that he wouldn’t vote for Trump in another election. Hindsight sees in 20/20.
However, no one should call Corker brave for speaking his mind, nor should we celebrate Flake’s bruising rebuke of Trump’s behavior. These two men aren’t heroes; they’re cowards. If they were facing reelection, they would be just as silent as their colleagues are.
The majority of the rest of the Republican members, who are still restricted by the looming 2018 election, remain mute and relatively docile. They fall in line and smile and wave. The only reason Flake and Corker are so publicly opposing the president is that they don’t have to worry about getting reelected.
It’s sad that, in our electoral system, lawmakers can only be truthful once they remove themselves from the process. Our members of Congress should always consider the opinions of their constituents. However, at a certain point, their silence can become detrimental to our democracy. If Republicans think Trump is incapable of leading then they should say that. Are their reelection bids more important than the longevity and prosperity of our country? I think not.
Our lawmakers should be honest with the American people 100 percent of the time – not only when they’re on their way out the door.
Chandler Gory is a junior majoring in political science. Her column runs biweekly.