The Styrofoam Revolution

By Mark David Blum, Esq.

They have been fighting this battle since 2007 and we are funding this with our tax dollars.

Last year I cornered a Congressman. It took me almost fifty years to get face time with my Congressperson. (The Congressman I had cornered is no longer my congressman. He was my Congressman. He wants to be again. Right now, he is between gigs as my Congressman). But face time, I got. I had him backed literally in the corner at a social event at which we were both present. I had to either side of me women watching and listening to me. It was great. I had him trapped. I was kind. I was respectful. I was a perfect gentelman.

Our discussion meandered to my favorite example of government dysfunction. Speaker Pelosi, at the time when the Democrats had the government in 2007, got a rule passed by the House to ban Styrofoam coffee cups from the House cafeteria. When Speaker Boehner took the gavel in 2011, he put forth a rule which would return Styrofoam coffee cups to the House cafeteria. Legislation was drafted, hearings and debates were held. There was a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. Styrofoam cups were returned to the House cafeteria. The tally for the vote went 100% straight down party lines. This told me my government is broken beyond repair. Congressfolks couldn't even decide the petty issue of styrofoam cups based on their conscience. Their votes were a pure rock solid demonstration of individuals elected to do what is in the nation;s best interest but instead submitting their will and votes to the demands of their respective political parties. There was no cognative dissonance between obedience to party will versus what their conscience dictates. What are the odds of each member truly voting how they morally felt about the issue (that is why we elect them) and that result being a 100% match to their party affiliation? Those odds have to be off the charts.

During the telling of my story, I realized that this gentleman was in Washington during this battle royale. He knew exactly what I was talking about and remembered the event well. But then he said the magic words, “it was more complicated than that.” That’s when my eyes sailed up into my forehead. I could hear the sweet melodies of flushing toilets with millions swirling around down the bowl. How many tax dollars were incurred in spent time and expenditures of resources of so many people and the very record of our history itself was devoted to this coffee cup question? Really, in dollars and sense, what … a couple million when finally printed as the formal record. If you want to talk about waste, clean your own House first.

His defense was simple: There was apparently a big push / pull in opposite directions going on by the parties on the whole area of environmental issues. Republicans opposed every positive environment issue that came up and Democrats supported it. Straight down party lines went vote after vote. The coffee cups to them, was just another one of their battles. It is like watching my parents argue with my grandparents over who cheated at pinochle.

Assuming every Congressperson voted their conscience, the mathematical probability of every vote matching every other vote from every other person in their party is astronomical. I submit it is near zero. This battle royale between the parties over such pathetic pettiness has gone one for more than half a decade and cost millions.

If there was ever proof of a broken political system requiring voting outside the box this coming election day, let it be called the Styrofoam Revolution. We need a new political party; the Styrofoam Party with a styrofoam platform, and a styrofoam candidate, perhaps we can end this party gridlock and congressional lunchroom foodfight, and cut the deficit.

It has been five years already. How many more years and millions of dollars must be wasted on this garbage. This will never end until we exorcise both demons from government.

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