Over the past few days, whether on TV, online, or in the papers, one of the top headlines has been the House voting to proceed with a lawsuit against Obama. On a 225-201 vote (with no Democrats supporting it and five Republicans voting against it), the House passed a resolution to censure President Obama with a lawsuit. Why? Because Obama overstepped his ‘boundaries’ as president of the USA by using his executive power in a way that is not ‘constitutional’ – regarding his decisions on the Affordable Care Act. Speaker of the House John Boehner stated: “No member of this body needs to be reminded about what the Constitution states about the president’s obligation to faithfully execute the laws of our nation. Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change? Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our founders have built?”
Let’s take a look at just this idea of what America’s Founding Fathers and the Constitution “built” and intended for the nation and apply it to the House of Representatives itself. Those of us who have taken a US History or US Government course know that the House of Representatives was constructed to be the most democratic body of the national government. What does this mean? Unlike the Senate, House of Representatives members were elected by popular vote prior to the 17th Amendment. This was to ensure that they would be more accountable to voters, therefore more illustrative of the public as a whole and its opinion. I’ll say that again: accountable to voters. This means trying their best to understand and demonstrate what the good majority of Americans want. Do most American voters want to sue Obama? According to Gallup, the President’s approval rating has never gone below 40 percent and his disapproval rating has never exceeded 55 percent thus far. Have we seen protests, vast complaints, and multiple outcries from Americans to charge a lawsuit against President Obama? Not quite. After hearing that House Republicans voted earlier against amendments from Democrats, some asking if they would disclose the cost that taxpayers would have to endure as a result of the lawsuit, I don’t think they would be very in favor of one. Have we heard Americans carp and condemn the House and Congress? Especially after a certain government shutdown? Well, Congress’ approval rating recently has been proven to be the lowest in all of American history thus far, at one point in time reaching a low 15 percent. Furthermore, public opinion polls– what Congress is supposed to take into account –prove that more than one in five Americans believe the best way to fix Congress is to completely revamp it by replacing all its members.
So, is the House really doing a decent job maintaining America’s Founding Fathers’ objectives and aspirations? Well, let’s cut it some slack. How could it be truly accountable to voters and embody the majority of American voters with such a composition as today’s? The average House member is a male between the ages of 50-60 earning a salary of over $150,000 – and is basically assured job security due to perks such as ‘pork barrel’ and advantages like the ‘incumbency effect’. Today, America’s population has an average age within the range of 35-45, contains more women than men, and its median income is $51,017, with 15% of Americans living in poverty. Without even bringing up the issue of racial diversity, let’s move on straight to party affiliation. There’s no necessary study needed to corroborate the fact that Republicans dominate the House of Representatives today. According to Gallup, recently the division between Republican and Democratic Party affiliation – including ‘leaners’ – is pretty even (what has risen over the years is the number of Americans who label themselves ‘Independents’).
Now I’m not trying to be ‘pro-Obama’ and take ‘Obama’s side’ by trying to prove that the Affordable Care Act is the best way for the USA to go in terms of medical coverage – I actually am opposed to certain components and am not in accordance with some of Obama’s policies. What I’m trying to express is the message behind this very respectable lyric conceived by Bob Marley: “So before you point your fingers, be sure your hands are clean.” Before saying that Obama is dishonoring the Constitution and shaming the objectives of the USA’s Founding Fathers, House of Representatives members supporting the lawsuit should self-evaluate and see if they themselves are maintaining those goals. Are they being effective as a unit? Are they truly taking into account Americans voters’ perspectives? Do they as a whole make the House of Representatives or the House of ‘Representatives’?
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Hargreaves, Steve. “15% of Americans Living in Poverty.” CNN Money. Cable News Network, 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 02 Aug. 2014.
Manning, Jennifer E. Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile (2014). Federation Of American Scientists. Federation of American Scientists, 14 July 2014. Web. 02 Aug. 2014.
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Spurlock, Chris. “How Representative Is The House, Really?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2014.
Image Credit: Ox, Dan. “Impeach Obama Magazine.” Flickr: Creative Commons. Flickr, n.d. Web. 8 Aug. 2014. <https://flic.kr/p/nken2h>.