Can you imagine being in a relationship with somebody who never listens to you? Somebody who never cleans up their messes or owns up to their mistakes? Somebody who keeps promising they'll change, year in and year out, but never does?
Odds are, you don't have to imagine. Because that someone is the United States Congress. And if you're an American, there's about a 4 in 5 chance you're fed up with them.
Like every relationship, we were pretty into it at first. Sure, we've been down this road before. Sure, we act like we know better. But man, do politicians make a smooth sales pitch.
...But the empty promises just keep piling up.
Everything is always a cheesy line with Congress, as if they're afraid they'll explode if they don't fit enough platitudes into every sentence. So, how are those big promises panning out?
Well, in just five years, the 200 most politically active companies spent $5.8 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions to buy political influence, and received $4.4 trillion in federal business and support. That's your tax dollars. And that's "trillion." With a "T."
So much for "cleaning up Washington" and "standing up to special interests."
They never listen.
No, seriously. Statistically speaking, they never listen. Researchers at Princeton University looked at more than 20 years worth of data to answer a simple question: does the government represent the People?
The result? Well, I'll just quote the study directly:
When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.
It's like talking to a wall.
They're always sneaking around.
What's that, Congress? You're working late again? Traveling on a "business trip?" Riiiiiight.
We all know what you're really up to. In 2014, members of Congress took almost 2,000 special-interest funded trips under the guise of doing official business for their constituents. In reality, they did things like take $49,000 vacations to Australia. Or go to $35,000 worth of NFL games. Or $100,000 worldwide golf tours. Or $32,000 winery tours. All paid for by the special interests they're supposed to regulate.
They're clearly planning to leave us for someone richer
They've already admitted that they listen to money first and spend most of their time thinking about how to raise more. Every time someone rich walks into the room, they can't help but throw themselves at them.
Again, it's not that hard to see what they're up to. It's common practice for members of Congress to take cushy jobs with lobbying firms and other special interests right after leaving office. And it's getting more common every year: according to the New York Times, "in 1974, 3 percent of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists. Now 50 percent of senators and 42 percent of congressmen do."
You wouldn't tolerate it in a relationship. Why tolerate it from the government?
If someone you were dating treated you like this, you'd dump them immediately.
It's time to draw a line in the sand. That's why this Valentine's Day, I joined thousands of Americans in sending Congress a message: We will never, and I mean never, fall for another candidate who doesn't officially introduce, co-sponsor, or vote in favor of comprehensive Anti-Corruption legislation that outlaws everything we've talked about in this article.
Until then, they can kiss my sweet, sweet votin' goodbye.
--Jamie Bronczyk, Michelle Constantineau, and Sam Shanky contributed to this post.