De-Centralize

Washington, DC politics is anything but transparent.  It seems clear, however, that Congress men and women’s first priority is wealth accumulation (unless of course they are already wealthy, then wealth accumulation may be only one of the top priorities).  This pecuniary need enables those outsiders with money to wheel unusually large influence over Congress members and their votes.   But can wealth accumulations by itself explain the legislative dysfunction.  There must be other factors.

News reports outline profound differences found among Congress members, such as ideological (liberal, conservative, progressive, libertarian) differences, the natural geographic differences (like the views of an agricultural State and a very populous State), Keynesian versus “laissez-faire” advocates, big government versus small government supporters, and so on.  But do these differences explain the lack of governance we see?

Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, wrote of his frustration with Congressional Subcommittees.  He described them as incompetent and irrelevant to fulfilling the stated purpose of the subcommittee.  Any casual viewer of the 7/24 news media has seen what Gates is talking about.  What is not usually explained is that each of these Congress members has a large staff who do the leg work and prepare position papers for the Congress member.  And still they ask partisan or inane questions.

Maybe there is no cut and dry answer to why Congress is so ineffective.  Maybe we would do better thinking of a cure rather than a root cause.  So here’s a proposal aimed at changing Congressional behaviors.

De-centralize Congress.

Here’s what I mean.  Pick three large convention or exhibition halls around the country (for example, one in Portland, Oregon, Fargo North Dakota, and Memphis, Tennessee..  For each city bring in identical Conex or FEMA trailers, one for each Senator and Representative. That means 535 trailers for each location or a total of 1605 in all.  Each Congress members gets to outfit each trailer as they choose providing the trailer also house their staff.

Here’s how Congress might work.  January, February, and March would begin in Washington, DC and look pretty much as it does now.  In April, May, and June, the sessions of Congress would relocate to the first city.  The Capital would be open only for tours.

Care would be taken to televise all sessions with roving cameras, and as many spectators as security would allow should be invited into the actual sessions.

In July, August, and September, Congress would move again to the next location, and this process would continue through the rest of the year.  Once the year ended, three new cities would be chosen and the process repeated.

The objective would be to

(1) get Congress members out of their comfort zones and away from their secret DC haunts,

(2) bring members closer to real America (not just Washington or their home State),

(3) remove the trappings of privilege that their fancy Washington offices provide (at least for nine months of the year),

(4) make the legislative process far more transparent, and

(5) impose just enough inconvenience that in order to do anything each member would have to manage their time carefully.

Congress members need to come to grips with the concept that they are governing all America not just their own district.  They need to realize despite their plush DC trappings that they are ordinary people just like the rest of the country.  And quite frankly, more Americans need to visit Congress in action and see what’s really going on.

This plan, of course, is just wistful thinking.  On the other hand, what do many major corporations do when they cease to be dynamic and effective?  They move their corporate headquarters.   Hmmm.

 

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