Opinion: We have forgotten how the US government was intended to work

We are living in the shadow of the Great American Experiment. A republic, from which the United States government is derived, is situated on this idea that our way of life should be centered around self-governance and coupled with an emphasis on individual — and inalienable — rights. They are, as inalienable implies, untouchable by any institution of power and endowed onto us by our creator — whomever that may be. These are the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

The American people have been groomed to vote for the big names and base their political opinions on sound bites, media spin and talking points thrown around in pseudo-intellectual echo chambers. We are taught to hate the other side and trust bigwig career politicians to run our nation. This archaic idea of true accountability within Washington D.C. is lost.  

Our unique system was ratified in 1788 and is the first successful representative republic that truly is of, by and for the people. Contrary to popularized political dogma, our governmental body is anything but a direct democracy. The aforementioned failed system is bound by the institution of mob rule, or as Lord John Acton famously stated, tyranny of the majority.  

Our representative republic is situated on this idea that the citizens within each state, as well as the state itself, should possess significant representation on the national stage. In the legislative branch, we achieve this through the House of Representatives and the Senate, but most fail to cite the abundantly important delineation.  

Our nation was established during the peak of monarchical systems of government. Equal representation on the national stage between the states and the citizenry was an untested and fringe idea popularized by Thomas Paine.  

Opinion: We have forgotten how the US government was intended to work

Reynolds is an aerospace engineering junior and Community Voices columnist for The Shorthorn.

Originally, Senate members were chosen by duly elected state legislators to represent the interests of their particular state government. To compliment that power in Congress, Representatives in the House are chosen by the people of localized congressional districts to represent the interests of a citizen-based constituency.  

The introduction and implementation of the 17th Amendment changed it to a process whereby senators were also directly chosen by the people, a decision that most would find contradictory with the original purpose of the Senate — to represent state-specific interests.  

To restate, representatives within the House are obligated by definition to represent their constituency. Failure to do so historically resulted in removal from office. We, the people, have forgotten that intrinsic idea, and tend to blindly vote based on party lines or name recognition. 

Perhaps a term limit, as is implemented for the presidency, will halt the ongoing corruption in Congress. We allow cozy lifelong congressmen with zero military experience to wage war around the world without consequence. Less than 18% of lawmakers within the 117th Congress have prior military service, yet many “lifers” aim to abuse the ability to sacrifice our soldier’s lives to further their political agenda. 

Texas Congressional District 6, from which UTA is centered, has been a hot topic since the passing of Republican incumbent Ronald Wright. A swathe of candidates from both sides of the aisle have come forth to represent the district, but most citizens are falling into the trap of voting for the “big name” and fail to research the other candidates. 

Americans, over 75% of which believe the government is corrupt according to a 2015 Gallup Poll, are seeing this dangerous trend take hold of our political establishment. After all, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is integral that we, the people, gain back control of our republic. In order to do that, we must keep politicians accountable and elect real, average Americans to represent our interests. Similarly, we must amend the 17th Amendment to restore the power of state legislative bodies to appoint their respective senators.  

It is time for the government to once again be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

@JLucReynolds

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

Like our work? Don’t steal it! Share the link or email us for information on how to get permission to use our content.

Click here to report an accessibility issue.

Load comments