The U.S. Congress is a disgrace to all who have even the foggiest notion of how our constitutional democracy is designed to function. Not even the most conservative partisan can claim the premeditated plan of congressional Republicans to say "No" to anything put forth by the president, is acceptable.

The U.S. Congress is a disgrace to all who have even the foggiest notion of how our constitutional democracy is designed to function. Not even the most conservative partisan can claim the premeditated plan of congressional Republicans to say "No" to anything put forth by the president, is acceptable.


Government implies governing. To elect anti-government candidates to govern is idiocy. How then have we allowed this travesty to become reality?


The answers are several and include the power of individual and corporate wealth, the influence of religious extremists and widespread ignorance within the voting electorate. Certainly there’s more, including the attitude of millions who say, "My vote doesn’t matter."


Non-voters allow ideological extremists to exert undue influence on elections. Ideologues who tend to belong to the anti-tax, pro-Biblical legislation or influence-seeking corporations who together, provide the money to "buy" elections.


In states like Texas, we’ve witnessed the tragedy of one-party rule which has resulted in the gerrymandering of electoral districts shaped to virtually insure the re-election of party incumbents. We’ve also watched normally safe conservative Republicans swing their ideology to the far right for fear of being "primaried" by extremists within their own party.


The extremists threaten legislators who even consider compromise legislation for the common good. In business, the "my way or the highway" boss is reviled. These government-sponsored-religion and anti-government promoters are the epitome of the despised boss.


Perhaps serving notice, issue driven ideologues have begun giving more money to political action committees and less to a party. This may well result in more candidates "being bought" in order to legislate a particular issue and ignore the over arching needs of the American people.


So what can be done to reverse the politics of the wealthy and the religious radicals who exploit those who don’t vote and millions who need a government safety net to survive?


Eliminating ignorance should top the list. When those who vote against their own families’ best interests understand how they are being used on "sucker" issues that ultimately benefit the few, they will vote for candidates who support what’s right for all Americans.


Jobs, livable wages, health care, highways, bridges, the electric grid, climate change, safety, security and properly funded public education for all should dominate our legislative process, not abortion, guns, gay rights or teaching a particular religion in the public schools.


The latter are interest-group specific and have little or nothing to do with what American families need for survival. Social issues are smoke screens for electing politicians who vote to keep employee wages low, risk public safety with deregulating our food, air, water and safety and retain tax breaks for the wealthy. They laugh all the way to the bank at the emotionally driven, single issue voters who aid in their wealth accumulation. Wealth that largely enhances their financial portfolios and does little or nothing to create jobs.


To illustrate the point, consider the recent Primary Election. How many candidates outlined what they viewed as concerns of the citizenry and their plans for improving our lives? Few if any. However they tell us they are "conservative," "against Obama," "trustworthy" and "against the liberal assault on our values."


What does any of that really mean?


Liberals support Social Security; Medicare; health insurance for all; raising the minimum wage; equal pay and medical rights for women; Medicaid for the elderly, disabled and working poor; non-restrictive voting rights; and better educational opportunities for our children.


Conservatives have historically opposed these programs or at best, proposed watered down versions.


So whose values are being assaulted?


Like it or not, "there’s no free lunch" is accurate. Taxes are required for a free, constitutional, democratic society to function.


Cut government spending is the battle cry for the tea partiers and anti-government crowds.


Yet during the 2012 election, every time a tea party leader was asked if they wanted to cut Social Security, Medicare or the military, the answer was, "No!" Since those three programs consume 85 percent of the federal budget, they must be cut if there’s to be any meaningful reduction in government spending. Which brings us back to the question, what can we do to correct our dysfunctional government.


The answer is educating the factually ignorant about what a functional democracy requires of those elected and THEN VOTING for candidates who’ll support the common good. Emotional, single issues have been used too long by corporate CEO’s and the religious right to mobilize people to vote against their own interests and perpetuate the tax breaks that largely benefit the extremely wealthy and shut down women’s health clinics, even those where no abortions occur.


With education, the ignorant will stop being fooled and the disinterested will come to vote and do so for the betterment of our country.


TONY BEAVERSON is a resident of Sherman. Readers may email him at tbejag@cableone.net.