New Congress must tackle the real issues facing America

This week’s mid-term elections were certainly a wake-up call for many in Washington. In a rejection of decades of historical precedence, the American people delivered their verdict on the Republican controlled 105th Congress.

Historically, the president’s party fares poorly in midterm elections, especially in his second term. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as the “sixth-year itch,” did not come to fruition this election year.

Instead, the Democrats maintained their presence in the Senate and actually gained seats in the House, leaving the Republicans with one of the smallest electoral majorities ever; and they took control at all levels in California, the country’s most populous and wealthiest state. Why did voters react the way they did? It was most likely because the American people were sick and tired of a do-nothing Congress that was under the leadership of unrelenting extremists who lacked a clear message on how to advance American society.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich had forecasted a Senate with 60 Republican seats and a House with a 20-30 seat Republican majority. Fortunately for America, Gingrich was wrong. Had the GOP made some strident gains in this year’s midterm elections, the Republican congressional leadership would have interpreted it as a go-ahead from the American people for the impeachment of President Clinton.

We would have had a Congress whose agenda would be dominated by the extreme religious right. Americans and the world as a whole should be glad that it seems this will not be the case. The American voters should be commended for not giving the Republican leadership a mandate for a continuation of extreme policies on a wide array of issues, most notably impeachment.

Since 1994, bitter partisanship and the languishing fights over the privacy of the first family have monopolized the attention of Congress. Now, with a clear message from the electorate, Congress must end its affinity for vindictive infighting. Because there is such a slim margin dividing the two parties, the democrats can build coalitions with moderate republicans and help spur social development. They are in the position to ensure that the last Congress of this century can be a productive one that does much good for America.

The new 106th Congress has the opportunity to start anew. Rather than lingering in pointless fractional quarrels, the new Congress should look at ways to make sure young Americans can collect Social Security benefits. It should try to fix our decrepit public education system and help alleviate the financial burdens placed upon college students. Instead of pouring through the details of the president’s sex life, the Congress should take action on the many global disasters in the making. It should try to find ways to get health insurance for the 40 million Americans who0 don’t have it.

The new Congress should actually do its job and pass legislation that betters the lives of the American people, and not dedicate its time, energy and resources to the personal annihilation of the President and his allies.

As the new Congress starts next January, I urge our senators and representatives to pass substantive legislation that improves the lives of the American people, and not to remain embroiled in presidential scandal, sexual intrigue and spiteful partisan bickering.