The House of Representative Republicans, led by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), have proposed a new rules package that would fine representatives for live-streaming or sharing photos from the floor of the House. The initial fine would be $500, with each subsequent fine incurring a $2,500 bump.
This bill comes as a rebuttal to the June sit-in by House Democrats that was aimed at fighting inaction in the chamber over gun control. 170 lawmakers stood staunchly for an entire day to protest a majority Republican lack of action on trying to save the lives of people in the United States. The protesters used Facebook Live to broadcast their sit-in to the world, and garnered swarms of support from many outside of D.C.
House Conservatives attempting to take this type of action preemptively acts on Donald Trump’s unofficial candidacy slogan, and presumably his presidential mantra of “If you don’t agree with me, then don’t even try to fight my rich white man power”. It’s not like this was a response to Democrats stubbornly fighting a law that was passed by a majority of lawmakers in a Democratic way. This was a protest of quite literally nothing; a monumental nothing that could have prevented the deaths of the nearly 13,000 people in the United States who were killed by gun violence in 2015. Attempting to implement rules in such conditions puts into perspective what many in Congress actually see as their duty: to protect those who help them, and punish those who go against them.
More prevalent to the lives of the Average Joe in any given city, of any political party, is the issue of transparency. It is no secret that most people in the United States are oblivious to what happens on the floors of the Congressional Chambers. Over one-third of respondents to a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center could not name a single branch of government in the United States. Comparatively, 58% of people in the United States have a Facebook account. Are the House Republicans too self-concerned to see the glaring opportunity in front of them to educate people on the ways that the House works, through social media?
Or do they have something to hide?
Paul Ryan has a history of promoting transparency in government. When a law was passed requiring the Federal Reserve to explain it’s monetary policy to the public, Ryan applauded it by saying:
“If the Federal Reserve explained to the public how it made its decisions, the American people would have greater confidence in them. Families could better plan for the future, invest their money wisely, and create opportunity for all of us. I thank Chairman Hensarling and the Financial Services Committee for offering this commonsense legislation.”
The government should be “By the people, for the people.”
Are the proceedings in the House not something that people should know about, as soon as they occur? People deserve to know what our lawmakers have to say. Who better to report to people that the lawmakers themselves? These new rules go against common sense as we know it. It threatens the Democracy that Conservatives love to flaunt, by upholding the fascism that occurs behind soon-to-be closed doors.