U.S Government congressional ethics

On January 21, 2018 Reuters (2018) reported that Patrick Meehan, the then representative of the 7th Congressional District which include Lancaster, Berks, Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery counties was removed from the House Ethics Committee by the then Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan. Patrick Meehan was accused of sexual misconduct. The congress man was accused of misappropriating tax payers’ money by settling sexual misconduct claims using taxpayers’ money. A former female aide had accused the congressman that he had made undesirable romantic moves towards her. The speaker of Congress ordered Patrick Meehan to repay all the monies spent from public coffers. The Congressman thus got two penalties, first, he lost his position from the House Ethics Committee and second, he was ordered to repay the public funds. 

From the assessment of the case above, I find that the congressman was spared in the administration of the penalties. To begin with, it is unethical for the congressman to engage in the acts he involved himself in and this earned him the first punishment. The second allegations, where he was accused of using public money to settle his own mess was not punished appropriately. He deserved to be charged in a court of law for abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds. I feel that receiving orders to return the loot was just a tap on the wrist. It in no way can deter others from engaging in the same crime. It for these reasons that Basinger (2016) observed that there has been a growing dissatisfaction of the public with the congress especially when it comes to investigating and punishing its errant members. 

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Third Party Candidates

America is predominantly a two party system. Many people, voters especially would want more choices on the ballot but that seems to have been effectively denied by our constitution. The system has worked for 200 years, what about the future? Third parties are often not considered by majority of the voters is that these parties organize themselves around a single issue which has proved a sure way of losing votes. For instance, Ross Perot, in 1992 gave the presidency a shot but he failed miserably. He had structured his campaign on the agenda of reducing his federal budget deficit. In the same year, Howard Phillips considered the same position on The American Taxpayers Party advocating for the strict interpretation of the constitution. He garnered less than 1% of the votes. 

The second reason is that third parties are often sidelined by the American system of ‘the winner takes it all’. Bibby & Maisel (2003) observed that the American two party system has effectively ensured that for those who come in second, get no reward. This maxim has been overseen by the Electoral College which heaps on that candidate who has amassed more votes. With this in mind, the media ensures that candidates from the two main political parties get the most attention which goes a long way to ensure either of their win. 

If a third party won an election, the scales and mentality of the American people would change significantly. In the congress and senate bills would be passed on the basis of merit and not on the advocating party. This is because the third party would not have sufficient numbers to pass the bill. As such, subscription to political emotions and inclinations would not be the case. 

Federal and State Authority

Of late, social and mainstream media have been awash with reports of poor police service, an aspect that has been marked by increased police brutality and insensitivity to their suspects and arrestees. The police officers have been reportedly accused of overstepping their mandate and going overboard in administrating arrests and calming situations of social unrest. There are federal laws that reign in on police misconduct on both criminal and civil parameters. Federal laws often outline the limits and actions of the state, county and local officers and their relationship with the citizens, their identity, either by race, color, religion, gender, and sexual orientation notwithstanding. On the other hand, federal laws protect all persons in the U.S. 

To stem the issue, Federal Authorities and State Authorities should work hand in hand to ensure that the suffering of Americans and other visitors does not happen especially in the hands of law enforcement. Federal Authorities have the responsibility of ensuring that the agreements that the United States has entered to, in terms of human rights are sustained and upheld. It is also the responsibility of Federal Authorities to prosecute police departments that go against the professional code. The State Authorities should channel their efforts and resources towards local and state police departments to ensure that there is the respect of human rights. Such efforts and resources can be channeled towards ensuring that police officers are accorded the right working environment and unnecessary pressure resulting to mental health issues are addressed. Federal and State budgets should be channeled to addressing the sources and not symptoms of police brutality. 

References

Basinger, S. J. (2016). Scandals and ethics reform in the US House of Representatives. Public Integrity, 18(4), 359-375

Bibby, J. F., & Maisel, L. S. (2003). Two parties-or more? the American party system. Westview Press.Reuters. (2018, January 21). Republican congressman removed from ethics committee. Retrieved from Reuters Website: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-meehan/republican-congressman-removed-from-ethics-committee-idUSKBN1FA019

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