Congress Gets a Paycheck While Taking Yours: How to Take a Stand
It’s happening again. The government is shutting down, Congress is collecting a paycheck while taking away the pay of constituents who have the misfortune to work for them, and nothing is getting done because of a partisan pissing match.
Let’s rewind to the Women’s March. It was all over the news, but it wasn’t the only major story; the Republican-controlled White House, Senate, and House of Representatives managed to shut down the government —and still tried to pass the buck to Democrats. A government shutdown with one party in power was absolutely avoidable, and yet Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who inadvertently inspired us with the words Nevertheless, she persisted, attempted to bargain DACA against CHIP, trying to force the Democrats to concede on its protection of the Dreamers in favor of children’s healthcare.
Of course, it failed. It couldn’t even pass with the majority of Republicans. And instead of finding a bipartisan compromise, they began the usual finger-pointing. Fast-forward to the most recent shutdown. This time it’s over funding the border wall. Regardless of which party rules, a government shutdown means government workers and even military personnel may be required to work without pay. Meanwhile, Congress and the President will still be collecting a regular paycheck for essentially not working.
Most workers cannot afford to skip a single check. Families often live paycheck to paycheck, barely scraping by. Those paychecks are anticipated, and they don’t always allow enough extra to build emergency savings. Those missing paychecks might be grocery money or a mortgage payment, school fees, holiday travel, or a much-needed medical exam.
Simply put, Americans can’t afford to miss paychecks because Congress and the President have forgotten they’re supposed to be working for the people and not just for themselves. Their political posturing in an attempt to score points off one another means that actual American citizens may have to struggle more than was strictly necessary. And, frankly, it’s not okay.
So what do we do when Congress thinks it’s acceptable to stop our pay while collecting their own?
We let them know.
We can utilize Resistbot on Facebook to communicate our displeasure.
Resistbot will send messages to our representatives on our behalf. All we have to do is message the word Resist, and they will help us locate our representatives so that we can clearly communicate our disapproval. It only takes a minute.
We can also make phone calls to our local representatives.
Phone calls, letters, emails, and other messages are great ways to keep them on their toes. They have to tally these calls, and that information is supposed to be available to the public. We can ask what those numbers are in order to get an idea of how other citizens are responding to their work.
We can participate in local town hall meetings and phone calls where we’re able to speak directly to our representatives.
Excuse my French, but by all means, give them hell! Don’t let them off easy for taking our money while comfortably collecting a paycheck.
We can show up and vote at every single local, state, and federal election.
Every runoff. Every midterm. Every primary. We can take a look at how our representatives are behaving now and choose whether or not we’d like to continue to have them represent us in the future. In the words of our current President, you’re fired.
But it’s not just about showing up to vote.
We can also participate in voter registration and Get Out the Vote campaigns to make sure our fellow citizens show up to express their outrage as well. Maybe we can’t make them do their jobs right now, but we sure can show up and make sure they feel our reaction at the polls in November.
Today, I stand in solidarity with all the workers who will lose wages while the government fails to come to a compromise. None of this is normal, and we have a responsibility to speak out and let them know that we won’t stand idly by while they take grocery money away from hard-working Americans. Instead, we’ll make those calls, show up at town hall meetings, and show up at the polls to let them know that we see what they’re doing, and we don’t like it. Perhaps if they shared our healthcare plan and had to miss paychecks for a government shutdown, they’d learn to work together at last to make this country better.