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Dear Congress, Stop Using Military Families for Your Own Political Gain

Still crazy, after all this time.

Well, Congress, you collectively suck. I would like to immediately include the disclaimer that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views of the entire Military Moms Blog Contributing Team. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to run a clinic — A Festivus in February Airing of the Grievances, if you will. 

According to a Gallup News report posted in December 2017, Congressional Approval has been below 20 percent for the past eight years. It dipped to 13 percent in November of 2017.

In 2017, Arnold Schwarzenegger made the comment, “Here are some of the things that are more popular than Congress: hemorrhoids, Nickelback, traffic jams, cockroaches, root canals, colonoscopies, herpes. Even herpes, they couldn’t beat herpes in the polls.”

PolitiFact judged Schwarzenegger’s statement “mostly true.” It only failed to be “true ” because the last polls on the subject did not directly compare herpes to Congress.

Potato, Poh-ta-toh. 

We do not live in a direct democracy like the philosophers of Ancient Athens or the Superhumans of Switzerland. So, as citizens of a representative democracy we, in good faith, cede our ability to make decisions with respect to government policy by voting for a representative to govern on our behalf.  Our elected officials are by very definition, public servants. When was the last time you truly believed the Congressional body was working to serve you and your family? Let that marinate for a while.

According to visitthecapitol.gov, “Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government that represents the American people and makes the nation’s laws.”

How old is this website? 

The US Capitol in 1846. Seems like this is the last time the website was updated.

This past year has exhausted me. Extreme partisanship is breaking this country. There are over 245 million adults in this country, and we can’t find 535 honest, well-informed, moderate folks to sensibly run this country? Pew Research Center states that 81 percent of both Democrats and Republicans have an unfavorable view of the other party. There are few adults left in the room of very petulant, very well-paid children. 

I am so angry, saddened, and frustrated that sometimes I can’t help but feel the sting of tears in my eyes over what I have seen and read in the news recently. Some of it is because of my political inclinations, but some of it is because I know our country is better than all of this crap. I haven’t been able to locate enough macaroni and cheese in the entire state of Alabama to mitigate these feelings. 

What makes me the most upset, however, is members of both parties, at all levels, using military members and their families for their own political gain. Using us. It almost makes me physically ill to write that, but it’s just true.

I could spend weeks listing the ways that service members and their families sacrifice for the United States of America, but we are all intimately aware of these sacrifices on a daily basis.

We. Give. Enough.

We don’t want to be used as the face of a political party when they need a 15 second sound bite to bolster their own poll numbers. We don’t want to be used as pawns in negotiations to push through budgets and legislation under the radar of regular Congressional Order. We are not your examples to possess and use. Active Duty Military Members are strictly prohibited from participating in partisan political activities by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The United States Armed Forces belongs to no political party. 

The most recent budget crisis and subsequent government shutdown has made it clear how vulnerable our community is to the whims and tantrums of both parties. Our pay and our ability to take care of our families was held as leverage in some sick game of chicken between a majority of people who have never laced up boots or unpacked their sixth moving truck in eight years.

It should be made crystal clear that the majority party in each branch of Congress sets the legislative agenda for the term. There has not been a budget passed under regular congressional order since 1997. That’s 20 years of stop-gap, Continuing Resolutions (CR’s) forced through at the 11th hour by both parties — two plus decades of pushing government funding to the brink and zero accountability for any of the consequences. It is estimated that the 16 day government shutdown in 2014 cost $24 BILLION in economic output according to Standard and Poor’s ratings agency.

Imagine doing your job that poorly. 

Republicans, Democrats, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, we do not need you to claim us as your own. We need you to fight to maintain a robust State Department to ensure that we sustain and build respectful relationships with not only our friends, but also our foes.

We need you to realize that as elected members of this country, your words matter. They are heard and taken seriously by the rest of the world.

We need you to think about the service members and missions you are putting in jeopardy with your bombastic, weaponized rhetoric.

We need you to fight for additional resources for our missions.

We need you to thoughtfully research ways to retain our most valuable men and women.

We need you to stand up and be leaders.

Throughout this past week, The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright, has come onto my radar by way of his Facebook posts on the subject of the government shutdown. I highly recommend you follow his Facebook page if you’re longing for an example of a true public servant. Another disclaimer, Chief Wright has no involvement with this post other than demonstrating what it is to be a decent human being and a leader to his entire force. When addressing the potential shutdown on the horizon, the Chief writes, “I am not one to beg, but tonight, I’m begging you to be there for each other. Share facts and information – but not rumors or uncertainties. Keep the lines of communication open. Check on each other. Be there for each other. We will get through this together, and together we will not falter and we will not fail.”

This, made me bawl yet again. But, this time it was tears of hope and optimism, and the feeling that there are good people on our side. 

I hope the members of Congress actually start listening to people like Chief Wright and remember the noble purpose and hopeful promise of government service. You know, the way our service members wake up and do every day, pay or no pay. 

In the meantime, start researching your Congressperson. All 435 seats in the House of Republicans and 33 Senate seats are up for reelection in 2018. VOTE! 

 

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One Response to Dear Congress, Stop Using Military Families for Your Own Political Gain

  1. Marysa February 10, 2018 at 10:35 am #

    Kate, thanks for sharing all of this information. I too have been disillusioned with the current government system and am tired of military and military families being used as political pawns. I wish they listened more to us about what it’s actually like (you know, the literal boots on the ground) than using patriotism to pass their personal agendas.

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