Have you ever found yourself yelling into the telephone? You are trying to resolve a problem or update some data when you get lost in the automated phone labyrinth. When I hear myself shouting at top volume, “I said ‘speak to agent’” I know it is time to hang up.
Right now, automated answering devices seem to be paragons of compassion and individualized attention compared to government in Washington. I don’t think I am alone in my frustration, feeling that I know who I do not trust, but having little faith that things will change no matter who is elected. The quagmire is so deep; the quicksand of the political culture so slimy that I feel it will entrap and consume even the most upright, best-intentioned and clearest thinking candidates. Truthfully, I think it would be a depressing exercise to figure out how many politicians fit that description in the first place.
On his radio show a few weeks back, my husband asked listeners what three agenda items the Republican Party could offer that convert them into enthusiastic voters for that party’s candidates rather than just voting against the Democratic choice.
His question got me thinking about what type of statements would ramp up my enthusiasm. I realized that at this point, I am seeking more than policy statements such as “lower taxes,” “immigration reform,” or “responsible and transparent government” because those promises are too vague and have been offered and broken too frequently.
I am really looking for a commitment to bold measures, counterpoints to the bold measures the Democrats have put in place since the last Presidential election. I crave the assurance that starting at the end of January I will actually see stark and tangible differences; a bloodless revolution, if you will.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich’s Contract for America captured the imagination and crystallized the dreams of so many Americans. As the Republicans drifted from these principles, they lost the trust of those who had voted for them. But the idea of articulating principles was a good one.
I do think that if the Republicans ran on a bold platform that expressed trust in Americans rather than a “we the ruling class knows what is best for you” philosophy they would find voters willing to follow them. Wouldn’t that be a better strategy than just hoping voters run away from their political opponents?
Here are three of my suggestions:
1) One idea; one vote. There should be no unrelated pieces of legislation tacked onto bills.
2) Each and every piece of legislation should have as part of it a concrete cost and achievement goal for every twelve month period following its enactment into law. If either the budget goes too high or the results don’t match the pledge, the legislation would need to be voted on again at the end of that period.
3) Any representative or legislator who cannot pass a detailed test on all the contents of a piece of legislation cannot vote on the legislation.
And as a bonus added measure I would love to see two more suggestions floated:
1) Congress should meet in Washington for two weeks every other month while working most of the time from their home states and districts. With modern technology there is no reason for our elected officials to be removed from constituents so that they come to value and align with their fellow politicians rather than those who voted them into office.
2) All legislation must apply equally to all elected and appointed officials. No more passing laws while exempting Congress from the effects of that law.
Drastic measures? Yes, and there are probably many better ideas. But wouldn’t the debate on these types of suggestions be worthwhile? At the moment I see some innovative individuals scattered around a Republican Party that is moribund and directionless. Although the Democratic Party’s ideas are proving disastrous on a daily basis, fervently held bad ideas win out over nothingness each and every time.