Oh, Lord above. Gimmie something to believe in.
Yes, yes I invoked a glam 80's hair band, and I'm going to talk politics. You got a problem with that?
So I watched a documentary called "Politcracy" this evening and not only was it thought provoking and interesting but it finally put words to things that I think most of us have felt for quite some time.
Washington, Congress, the Presidency and our country's government in general have been broken for quite some time. They've been gridlocked for the recent past, and there is no end in sight to that gridlock. You've got the loony left and the radical right pulling at the same budget strings and they're pulling so hard that sooner or later the whole thing is just going to come tumbling down.
I don't know about you but I don't want to be around for that, but I've got news for you folks, I'm 34 years old and its most likely coming in my lifetime.
I think that's a premise that can't really be argued with. Congress, the President and our government in general don't work. Agreed? If so, keep reading. If not, please feel free to catch the next flight to Xenu and tell Mr. Hubbard I said hello.
Now this documentary went through the usual suspects. Dysfunctional partisanship, wacko political activists, and the corrupting influence of money. All valid points. Once again, being that I am a rational human being who isn't so much interested in your beliefs, I want to know what you can or have gotten done. Actual measurable accomplishments. I want you to work. I want to work. I have a to do list a mile long. I check shit off it everyday. I progress in my life daily. I do work in order to further the quality of my own life. In short, I work at it. Whatever it is, professional, personal, financial, romantic, or whatever the hell else pursuit I decide to pursue. I take rational steps in order to accomplish the goals that I have set.
Here's the kicker. Sometimes a personal goal I have set, like say for instance, going on one of those cattle drive vacations (a la City Slickers), conflicts with another one of my goals, in this case a financial one, which say, for the sake of argument is to save $5,000 over the course of the next 12 months. Now I know that the way that I currently live my life accomplishing both of those goals is impossible. One of two things, or a combination of things will have to happen in order for me to do both. I will have to either spend less money, take a less expensive vacation, or I will have to make more money by putting in some overtime. I'll have to compromise some actions in order to accomplish my goals.
That last sentence is the biggest thing I think we have forgotten in this wonderful land of ours. Compromise. I have to compromise one or both of my goals to accomplish what I want to get done. I can't have it both ways. I don't get my cake and eat it too. It just doesn't work that way.
Now take that and apply it to the grand scale that is our Nation's congress. These men and women are presented with the monumental task of governing over 300 million people. I'm thinking that some give and take would be in order to pull that shit off. But I digress.
So, mercifully, there is a group out there who's soul purpose is to work towards forcing this carnival of fools to compromise.
They've got a website! Of course, doesn't everyone. I mean for Christ Sake I've got a website. Anyway, here's the link. http://www.nolabels.org/work
Now they've laid out a 12 point plan to make that happen. Oh, sweet merciful Lord I love these ideas. I hope you do too. So I'm just going to lay them out here, give you a quick one or two sentence commentary and then move right along. Hopefully, you'll tell me what you think of this.
12 Ways To Make Congress Work
- No budget, No pay!: Quite simply, if you don't do what we put you in there to do you won't get paid. Kind of like the rest of us and those pesky jobs we've got or don't got. If you don't work, you don't eat!
- Up or Down vote on Presidential appointments: Another good call. Congress routinely uses trivial little rules they have to hold up nominees for very narrow political reasons or to gain concessions for their individual state. Bullshit. 51-49 wins.
- End the filibuster: This is the political version of "I'm taking my ball and going home." Not to mention at one time, you had to really work at a filibuster. You had to get up and talk for hours on end to hold up legislation. Now all you have to do is signal your intent to filibuster and its done. Which is why in the first 50 years of the filibuster it was used only 35 times. In the past two years its been used over 100.
- Empower the sensible majority: If a majority of congress wants to get something done, they shouldn't be held hostage by the congressional leadership. They should be allowed to get it done. Basically, this lets senators and representatives sign anonymous discharge petitions which override the leadership and get bills onto the floor.
- Make members come to work: This is a no-brainer. At the risk of sounding holier than thou you're fucking stupid if you don't agree with this one. Congress spends so much time flying back and forth to their districts that they're not in Washington enough to get anything done. They should have to work 5 days a week just like you and I. I understand congress works for their constituents so they should have 3 weeks in D.C. and one week home. So we have real access to them (they gotta work all 5 days when they're home.) And finally, as of right now, congress doesn't have to all be there at the same time. How the hell do they vote if they don't all have to be there at the same time? Horseshit, they should all have to coordinate their schedules.
- Q & A time for the President: 90 minutes a month in each house of congress. Questions would alternate between Dems and Republicans. President would have to answer them. Oh, and this is all on TV. Think that would make these clowns get up, in front of the country and defend their ideas?
- Fiscal report to congress, hear it, read it, sign it: Make congress use the same numbers when they're debating. They all use different statistics and fuzzy math to make their arguments. This way they don't have that chance because they all have to work off the same set of numbers.
- No Pledges but Allegiance and oath of office: Easy example, 238 house members have signed a pledge to never raise taxes. Another 110 have signed one to never cut social security. How the hell can they debate or work together when they signed away their ability to compromise to some special interest group?
- Monthly bipartisan gatherings: I like this one. Everyone knows that if you don't even know your co-workers its a lot harder to get anything done. Plus, its real easy to demonize and skewer people when you don't know them. This would force these guys to get to know one another and possibly find some common ground between them.
- Bipartisan seating: This is psychological. Right now, all the Democrats sit together, and all the Republicans sit together. Almost like a face off, or a war. Make them sit with the other guy and maybe their spirit of cooperation would be fostered. Stranger things have happened. When I was a kid they always made us sit next to someone we didn't know in class, and guess what happened? We got to know them!
- Bipartisan leadership committee: Another good one. Instead of allowing the leadership to simply get together to figure out how to fuck the other guys, make them get in a room together, make them talk, make them get shit done.
- No negative campaigns against incumbents: This is simple. No sitting member can campaign against another member. They are free to campaign for his/her opponent, but not against the incumbent. Why? Because would you want to work with the guy who just a week ago was trying his best to get you fired? Not a chance, you'd want to do whatever you could to fuck his world up. So, we don't need anymore of that.
12 step plan. I think it would work, or at least it would be 12 giant steps in the right direction.
Many hands make light work. Democrats can't get shit done. Republicans can't get shit done. Maybe we ought to try forcing them to work together and see if they all can get shit done. If not, we can replace them in a couple of years.
Its a thought, its a plan. I like it. Do you? I want to know.