United States congressman, Solomon P. Ortiz, represents the 27th congressional district of Texas, and has done so since 1983.  He has remained something of a back-bencher in Congress and for understandable reasons.  He has no education credentials.  He never graduated from high school, nor has he earned a college degree.  (Some have earned law degrees while they were members of Congress.) He likewise discourses upon nothing with authoritative expertise.  He has authored no articles of note on either domestic or foreign policy.  He is divorced and has never been accused of being a stalwart family man.  He joined the ranks of Congress after working for a modest salary as sheriff of Nueces County, his most impressive position prior to 1983.  Yet, during his tenure in Congress, he has become a millionaire.  Is anyone really shocked? 

The following are a few of the positions Mr. Ortiz has taken on significant political issues:

  • Voted "yes" on Obamacare;
  • Voted "no" on photo ID in federal elections;
  • Voted "yes" on preferential admissions for blacks and Hispanics to colleges and universities;
  • Voted "yes" on providing illegal aliens tuition breaks at State colleges and universities;
  • Voted "no" on fencing the United States' southern border;
  • Voted "no" on allowing military troops to guard the border;
  • Voted "yes" on the "cash for clunkers" program;
  • Voted "yes" on virtually every major spending bill in Congress, including a $192 billion package for anti-recession stimulus spending, an $825 billion package for economic recovery, a $15 billion bail out for GM and Chrysler, and another $60 billion stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, and energy;
  • Voted "yes" on congressional pay raises.

In addition, Mr. Ortiz refused during a recent congressional recess to hold a town hall meeting to discuss his voting record face to face with constituents.  His refusal demonstrated arrogance on the one hand and cowardice on the other.

Mr. Ortiz personifies why nothing changes for the better in Washington, D.C.  Hannah Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil."  I cannot think of any words more apropos than these with which to describe dull, money-grubbing, self-serving legislators, who make daily decisions on issues vital to our republic.  The thought that this country is in the hands of such people is more than troubling; it is thoroughly enervating.

Because of the fact that Mr. Ortiz has an incumbent's advantage, i.e. simple name recognition, constituent service, an experienced campaign organization, and favorable district demographics, it is improbable that he will be unseated.  In fact, in a typical year, the retention rates of House members are between 80 and 90 percent.  Advocates of term limits have likened these rates to those of the Politburo of the former Soviet Union.  The incumbent's advantage, however one may otherwise wish to describe it, is formidable, and all the more so in a close race.

The major problem with Mr. Ortiz and many others like him is that they are not leaders or human beings of far-reaching vision.  They resemble, instead, parasites who feed off the public treasury.  This is an appraisal, which I know will strike many as unduly harsh.  Although true, it is certainly not intended to be uncharitable. Perusing Mr. Ortiz's accomplishments, or lack thereof, during the last 27 years leads ineluctably to the conclusion that he has brought little or nothing to the position he holds except a strong survival instinct. His years of "service" are remarkably devoid of any public virtue. But, ironically enough, might his profile define what it means these days to be a "man of the people"?

April 7, 2010