Yesterday, something quite amazing happened. At around noon I was taking a quick break from my spreadsheets and checking out the day’s headlines when I saw somewhere that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was filibustering in the Senate. I went to CSPAN’s website and listened live for the next 4 hours. It’s actually with some sadness that I call this “amazing”. Because what happened shouldn’t be considered amazing in the least bit.
Rather than espouse a party agenda, or fill the Senate Floor with hot air while dolling out as many talking points as possible (which is the norm), Senator Sanders stood up and delivered a passionate speech denouncing the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts for all individuals. The speech was about more than just tax cuts however. He conveyed the frustrations of working class Americans not being able to heat their homes in the winter and having to shop for food at the “dented can” food warehouse. He probed the deeper problems of the growing wealth gap in this country, as well as our totally screwed up priorities when it comes to spending. I won’t go into more detail here, you can find the entire text of his speech here if you want.
It was nice to see someone standing up and fighting for my interests for once. Especially when I see some of the other news today. Since Republicans gained control of the House, they get to head all of the committees and subcommittees and the proposed heads of those committees have been announced. Let’s have a look shall we?
- First up is Fred Upton from my home state of Michigan. He’ll now be chairing the Energy and Commerce Committee. His biggest campaign donor? EnergySolutions – a nuclear waste company. He’s also a 9/11 “truther” and climate change denier.
- Next we have Spencer Bachus from Alabama who will be chairing the Financial Services Committee. He received substantial donations to his campaign by firms that benefited from the bailout. He also has plans to de-regulate the financial industry. Yup, that’s right. The guy that’s going to run the financial committee wants to put us in the same position we were in right before the recession hit.
- Buck McKeon from California will be heading up the Armed Services committee. He supports allocating more resources to both the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and supports Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
- Representative Steve King from Iowa will be heading up the judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration issues. He’s also in favor of repealing the 14th amendment – you know, the one that guarantees you’re a citizen for being born here (among many other rights)?
- My favorite and winner of the “hypocrisy in action” award has to be Hal Rogers from Kentucky. He’ll be chairing the House Appropriations Committee. In a time when Republicans are running on a platform of lower taxes and less government, it’s a good thing to have the “King of Pork” heading up the committee that dolls out the greenbacks. From the article I linked to: “Roger’s has brought so much federal money to his hometown (Somerset, Kentucky; population 11,000) that it is known as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
So while it moved me deeply to hear Senator Sander’s speech yesterday, the reality is that his voice, one that represents my views, my situation, my convictions, that voice will be but a whisper among the din of corruption and financial elite that will be crafting policy for the next two years.