IDEMA: Who are the 10-percenters amongst us?

Recently, Congress has been given a 10 percent approval rating by the American public. What I want to know is: Who are those Americans who think Congress is doing a swell job?
Oct 9, 2013

The only people I can think of who might approve of what Congress is doing (or not doing; I am writing this on Oct. 2, the day Congress shut the government down) are the lobbyists who bribe our politicians. They far outnumber the members of Congress and are far more successful.

In fact, many members of Congress look forward to the day when they, too, can become lobbyists!

Why are 90 percent of us dissatisfied with Congress, if not enraged? Let me count the ways:

(1) Congress shut the government down while its members still receive a paycheck. Most other government employees have no checks to look forward to.

(2) Congress voted to reduce the food stamp program by $40 billion, while leaving fully funded many weapon systems that even the generals don't want.

(3) Many members of Congress want to take away the opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to attain affordable health insurance, without offering viable alternatives. Pre-existing conditions be damned!

(4) Congress refuses to balance the budget and reform the tax system. The Congressional Budget Office recently said public debt is expected to consume 100 percent of the nation's gross domestic product by 2038. Isn't our national debt our No. 1 problem? Yet Congress fiddles as Rome burns.

(5) Many members of Congress want to cut governmental programs, especially for the poor, while they themselves get fat at the public trough. Once in, most stay in. Paul Ryan was elected in his late 20s and now he is in his 40s, still harping about the size of government while living off of it all these years. John Dingell has the current record for such largess.

I could go on — and you, too, could add many other complaints. But let's get to the bottom line.

Our Founding Fathers saw serving in Congress as public service, not a career. When a member of the clergy starts believing that the church is there to serve him or her — not the other way around — that is the point when a church begins to become dysfunctional. 

Same with Congress.

Too many members of Congress have done little else in their lives. Fewer and fewer have served in the military. They see Congress as a way to enrich themselves by using their influence as future lobbyists and corporate board members. Few seem to leave Washington once they get there.

I am in favor of term limits — one six-year term for president and 12 years for members of Congress.

Since they will not vote for limiting their power, we need to provide that public service and vote them out. 

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist




I'd like to know the 37% who think Obama is doing a good job.

Now we find out that the White House and the IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer information! This should concern ever single American.

Selective outrage on your part Idema. Disgraceful.


Since "Congress" includes both the House and the Senate, some of your points are on target, although it is the Senate that is holding up the many appropriations bills passed by the House in furtherance of their Constitutional duties and it is the Senate that refuses to negotiate on a bi-partisan bases.

As far as the vote to allegedly reduce food stamp funding by 40 billion, your facts are wrong - the House voted to expand food stamp spending by less than the democrats demanded, largely because their bill forces able bodies recipients without children to actually work - what a hardship!

Since you can't get your terms or your facts straight, maybe you should stick to rendering unto God instead of Caesar.


Its a hardship when you can't find a job, have you looked at the classifieds in the Trib lately? Not much out there. This broad and ridiculous view that everyone who is able bodied and yet accepts some method of support because they're just lazy is incorrect.


I look forward to your careful and thoughtful columns Henry, thanks again. I am very tired of confrontational politics, I know it is a contact sport, but idealism and its fervor have no place in this country. I'm not going to comment on the other two notes on this article, because I have not researched my facts far enough, but then I don't know if they have either.


Sir, this country was founded on idealism and fervor.

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." --Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, 1776

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson

"Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions - The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."
-George Washington, General Orders, 1776

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."
--Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775

Please get to know your country.


Cramer, your comment makes absolutely no sense at all, but thanks for not carrying on further for lack of research; we can only guess that you would have opened yourself to continued ridicule.

Wing, thanks for the references and schooling Cramer, you are right on the money.

Vlad, thanks for your suggestion that Idema stick with matters that might be more in his line of expertise; this sure isn't it.


With all due respect rukidding and Vladtheimp, I submit that Rev. Idema has a duty and obligation, as a pastor and theologian, to address the political issues of his choice.

He highlights a political and societal struggle of epic - perhaps some would say biblical - proportions. Political irresponsibility built on egregious animus toward the president; the oligarchical control of elected officials and the electorate with dark money; threats that would bring on government chaos based on narrow ideologies; the hiding behind the Constitution to debase government, which is in place to provide for the general welfare of all the American people.

Thank you, again, Rev Idema, for your thoughtful expressions, written through the eyes of a Christian man, a theologian, and an American citizen.


I don't ususally add a second post, but this time, it is really important. What I am trying to say is, I can find quotes from the founding fathers to support a lot of things if I cherry pick, but I wasn't debating the founding fathers, or anyone else for that matter. I simply said that for this day and time, idealism and uncompromising fervor are hurting our nation, and I would like it to stop. Of course, that in itself is idealistic, so bah humbug. We have a great nation, made up of lots and lots of normal, average people, and occasionally we need to subjugate our individual ideals to the common good. What do you really think, in your own words?


Move to communist China if you want that. This is America, and individuals make us strong. Those lots and lots of good average people have lots and lots of ideas and ideals. When one of those ideas takes off, we have a Steve Jobs or an Abe Lincoln.

We have a great nation because we don't subjugate ourselves or ideals.


totally agree with you wingmaster, whoever you really are, except for the "move to communist china if you want that", what the .... gave you that idea? You and I both said the same things lots of people have good ideas, please read more carefully.

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