How to Fix the Worst Legislative Body Ever
It would be super easy, if a little obvious, to focus this post on the rage that has clouded my mornings—that’s when I listen to the news—since the debt ceiling debates began.
Lord knows I think about it enough. The red haze of fury really began back a few months ago, when a startling number of representatives elected to help create jobs instead decided to blather on about abortion—and really even before that, during the health care debates, when many of those same representatives were hell-bent on making sure that the most helpless among us stay that way.
But this time? This transgression? I have to turn off the radio every morning lest I put a fist through the wall when I hear someone like Mitch McConnell say that his primary goal is to make his president a one-term president (Ah, yes—petty partisan vengeance! Just what Jefferson had in mind!), or listen to someone like Michelle “the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery” Bachman attempt to explain why she understands the economy better than the world’s foremost economists.
But. To focus on the anger is pointless—Congress certainly hasn’t taken into account the fact that its constituents (read: its bosses) are angry. And most are: Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that polls showed almost 60 percent of Republicans weren’t happy with their representatives behavior of late. In any other world, to fail so utterly at the job one is paid to do ends in job termination: In Congress, the workers label their failures as “sticking to ideals” and then have the cojones to talk about their next term.
The gall of it all has got me thinking: We—their bosses—simply cannot let this happen again. There’s too much at stake.
I don’t just mean that we should simply vote them out (though, duh—of course we should, for failing to perform the task they were given, which at very least involves not bringing about avoidable economic disaster for the government and all of its citizens). No, I mean that we should come up with some new rules, a little sweeping reform that might keep more wasteful, disrespectful, arrogant, entitled, traitorous, undereducated jackholes from the honor and responsibility of serving in the House or the Senate.
A few things that might work?
1. One-term limits. Term limits have always been a good idea. But two terms—the usual suggestion—is obviously one too many, since the majority of representatives seem incapable of thinking of anything but their own re-election once in office. Let’s give them one three- or four-year term, and remove that burden of future elections.
2. Every child of every Congressman and Senators must go to either a public or a charter school.
3. No member of Congress gets better health care than the lowest ranking employee at Walmart.
4. Congress gets the same holidays off that we here at Philly Mag do (because deadlines are deadlines). That means no long recesses—but sometimes they can leave at 2 p.m. on the Fridays of holiday weekends.
5. No raises during their terms, except in the case of voter affirmation. (See rule 6.)
6. Accountability. Yearly reviews, conducted in the form of online voter polls that are open to every registered voter, will carry with them small raises or pay cuts for each politician, depending on the job-performance feedback.
7. Banners hung in every representative’s office, as well as the floors House and the Senate: “I am here serve my country and my constituents.”
8. Weed out the dummies. Before taking office, every representative will need to pass a test to make sure that he/she does, in fact, know more than a fifth grader when it comes to American history, democratic philosophy, possibly even a little math and economics.
9. Required summer reading: The Constitution. (Extra credit: the Federalist Papers, Paine, Locke, Rousseau, and selected speeches of Abraham Lincoln.)
That’s just a start of course, but a few of those things might help a little, right?
So long as we don’t wait on our Congress to actually pass it, I mean.