Thursday, October 17, 2013

Congressional Hall of Shame

When Senator Boehner left the meeting of the House Republicans, he pumped his fist. He got the idea from 95% of Americans who have been shaking their fist at Congress for months now.
You may have heard that this 113th Congress is the least effective Congress since WW2. Which is true.

You may have also heard that they have the lowest approval rating since they started tracking it back in the 70s. Also true.

And you may have heard that this is the worst Congress we've ever had.
Yeah, as bad as this Congress is, I can tell you 10 more that are ahead of it in the Congressional Hall of Shame. Ready? OK, in chronological order:

The 2nd Congress:
It only took Congress one round of being decent before they descended into scumbagness. This is the congress that passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which deliberated the means and powers by which slaveholders might pursue and recover their escaped slaves. (Admittedly, the permission to do this was already given in the Constitution. So the Constitutional Congress might have been the first scumbags, but whatever.)

The 21st Congress:
Although the US government had already established themselves as racists, they had a long tradition of respecting the autonomous nations of the Native Americans in the southeast. Then the 21st Congress passed the Indian Removal Act and the Native tribes were forcibly removed and sent west. Why? Because they were making southern white folk uncomfortable. (You'll notice a trend here.)

The 31st Congress:
In an attempt to further appease Southerners and find a common ground, the 31st Congress passed a new Fugitive Slave Act. And this one made the first one look like Disneyland. Ok, maybe not Disneyland. But Six Flags. On a rainy day. With your disgusting cousin. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 gave even more power to the slaveowners and facilitated bounty-hunting into the north for escaped slaves. Or people who looked like escaped slaves. So basically all black people.

The 47th Congress:
So we've proven our hatred to blacks and Native Americans, right? Who else do we hate. Oh, yeah, those dadgum Chinese people. The 47th Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion act, which closed American borders to Chinese Immigrants. Admittedly, the Page Act had already done some of this work by eliminating anarchists, drug dealers, and prostitutes (read: Chinese Women), but the Chinese Exclusion act nipped the "problem" in the bud.

The 49th Congress:
Not until the 107th Congress would America see this record broken: the 49th Congress passed two acts that violated the rights of humans. The Dawes Act, which attempted to repartition and eliminate land owned by Native American tribes and open up more land to settlement, and the Edmunds-Tucker Act (which I talked more about here) Way to go, Congress!

The 52nd Congress:
Wait, why are there still Chinese people here? Let's pass another act! The Geary Act required Chinese residents to carry a resident permit at all times or risk deportation or a year of hard labor. It also took away their rights to be a witness in a trial and their rights to post bail. That'll learn them, right?

The 64th Congress:
Ok, this one is hard, because the 64th Congress passed a lot of really good acts and did a lot for the people of the Philippines and Puerto Rico. But they also passed the Immigration act of 1917 which prohibited entry to our country for: homosexuals, idiots, epileptics, all persons mentally or physically defective, and anyone illiterate over 16. Because apparently we already had enough idiots here.

The 74th Congress:
I guess we should cut these guys some slack. After all, they were still trying to recover from the Great Depression and hoped to avoid getting involved in any international conflicts. Still, the Neutrality Act of 1935 (and also of 1936) which classified both sides of the conflict between the Axis powers and their victims as "belligerents" sent a clear message to the world. Until somebody bombs us, we really don't give a-

The 104th Congress:
Thirty years without too many huge issues. Not bad! And Americans still haven't fully agreed whether or not this next act was bad or not, but the Supreme Court has decided. And the Defense of Marriage Act stands as yet another move by congress to limit human rights. And, sure, maybe you don't agree with gay marriage. But, given Congress's track record, do you really want those guys defining marriage at all? Come on, America, get your head out of your butt.

The 107th Congress:
And here we have it, the second Congress that passed two acts that severely hurt the humans in their care: the US PATRIOT Act, which...I probably don't have to explain, and the No Child Left Behind act, which most teachers and educators agree has hurt schools and students far more than it's helped.

So, yeah, it's super frustrating that this Congress hasn't done very much while they've been in office. But it could be worse. They could actually try doing something.