Newly sworn-in Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) recently called for President Trump’s impeachment using profanity, drawing scorn from her colleagues.
But, given the state of the country, it’s long past time for our members of Congress to have a little urgency and fire in their language.
Consider, if you will, what the Trump administration has done in just the last month alone:
-They’ve shut down the government and denied a paycheck to hundreds of thousands of federal workers over funding for a border wall that even most Republicans don’t want;
-They’ve caged nearly 15,000 immigrant children at the detention center in Tornillo, Texas, with no end to the facility in sight;
-They’ve done nothing to stop hundreds of prescription drugs from increasing in price when Americans are already largely unable to afford basic healthcare;
-They’ve put corporate lobbyists in charge of four major federal agencies who come from the industries they’re supposed to be regulating;
And that’s not even beginning to mention the multiple violations of the public trust Rashida Tlaib laid out in a recent op-ed calling for Trump’s impeachment.
As Rep. Tlaib has pointed out, President Trump has arguably violated the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the president from receiving gifts — emoluments — from foreign governments, abused his presidential pardon powers (like his pardons of Joe Arpaio and Scooter Libby), and has committed what former Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz has called a “crime against humanity” in separating immigrant children from their parents.
Americans could use a little Congressional outrage with a little profanity mixed in when it comes to the fact that there’s a $1.5 trillion student debt crisis affecting more than 44 million Americans, that coincidentally could be completely wiped out for the same cost as the Republican tax cuts of 2017. Profanity from members of Congress would be welcome when it comes to the fact that a third of young Americans under 35 have to put off getting healthcare due to cost. And when housing costs are so high that people in one of America’s most prosperous cities are paying rent to live in vehicles, perhaps there should be a little more profanity from members of Congress about that.
Teachers in San Jose, California have to commute two hours each way in order to teach the children of the Silicon Valley employees who made the city too expensive for teachers to live in. Sears is giving its top executives $25 million in bonuses while the company’s workforce has to fight just to get a severance check. Verizon is eliminating over 10,000 positions despite getting $4 billion in tax breaks. Hundreds of Wells Fargo mortgage clients lost their homes through no fault of their own because the bank’s computer systems had a glitch. There’s been noticeably little outrage in Washington over any of this.
Roughly four in 10 Americans can’t afford basic needs like food and shelter despite surging corporate profits. Hurricane victims unable to pay delinquent tax bills due to losing everything they own are being hounded by private debt collectors in violation of federal law. The richest one percent of Americans have seen a 157 percent increase in their wages over the last 40 years while wages for working-class Americans have remained stagnant. A company with a trillion-dollar market value still pays its workers so little that many rely on food stamps. Where’s the profanity-laced outrage from Congress about that?
“Civility” isn’t something Americans are prioritizing from their members of Congress when the vast majority of them are living check-to-check, crushed by relentless student debt and the sky-high costs of healthcare and housing. What constituents want is urgency, action, passion, and the comfort that their representatives in Washington are doing everything they can to make their lives better, even if it means occasionally using profanity to get their point across.
Instead of wasting time clutching their pearls, Congress should start trying to understand that their constituents are, by and large, hanging by a thread. It’s time for them to get off their fainting couches and act with some urgency.