In the early hours of Saturday morning, the Republican senators of the United States Congress pulled off one of their greatest heists yet. Mitch McConnell and his hooligans were able to pull together the 51 necessary votes to pass a sweeping tax overhaul which promises to give cuts to the rich and corporations while middle and lower classes will face an increased burden.
The impacts of the new tax bill will be devastating to millions, including many graduate students and faculty on our campus and campuses across the country. The sinister move from these senators to sneak this bill through exemplifies why we need to stop seeing our politicians as larger than life icons with ethical and moral motives to improve our nation. In reality, their moral compass is grounded in self-interest and party allegiance.
One of the most interesting reactions to the passage of the tax bill came from an unlikely source. A favorite baseball writer of mine, Michael Baumann, tweeted his opinion: “We need to stop venerating politicians and start treating them like what they are: Employees. Imagine if your employees pulled what the Senate just did.”
In a couple short sentences, Baumann hits the nail on the head. Senators are elected employees of the people, with the job to act in the best interest of their constituents. There is not a single senator who can say that this tax bill acts in the best interest of their constituents. Instead, this bill benefits many of the Senators themselves (not to mention the president), and the corporations that fund the PACs and Super PACs that get the same hacks reelected to Congress over and over again.
What is particularly striking about the passage of this tax bill is the arrogance it took from the Republican senators who voted for it. It is an indefensible bill on all grounds. It passed only because these senators are so self-interested and self-obsessed that they would vote for anything to keep their seats, their donors, and prove their allegiance to the party.
None of the Republican senators are exempt from this disgrace, and it should follow them and weigh on their consciences for the rest of their lives. Susan Collins, St. Lawrence Alum and hailed ‘moderate’ conservative of the Trump era, voted yes, threatening the livelihood of countless people. John McCain, the hero who saved health care, voted to cut the taxes of the rich and raise the burden on the middle class. Jeff Flake, the one who dared to speak against Trump, voted to pass this bill. Hell, even Bob Corker, who voted against this bill, voted to take away healthcare from tens of thousands of people this summer. They have all failed as employees of the people time and time again.
The point is that politicians will always break your heart, and we need to stop treating these people as larger than life icons. Politicians have and will always act in the interest of their parties and donors, not their constituents. It is a bipartisan fact, as the Democratic senators on the other side of the aisle act in the same way.
We need to stop turning our politicians into our champions. Even the loved-figure of the left, Bernie Sanders, should not become an icon. It was not that long ago that Sanders turned his back on thousands of his staunchest supporters with his endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Sanders helped start a revolution, he is not a revolution himself.
Meaningful change is always going to come through the mass mobilization of people in the name of a common cause. Democrats did not stop the Obamacare repeal this past summer, the thousands of people who protested and made their voices heard did. Politicians did not march for Women’s Suffrage or Civil Rights, people did. Heroes do not exist on Capitol Hill, employees do: employees who you are the boss of.