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It's time to send Congress home.

Mal-2 (675116) writes | about 2 years ago

User Journal 1

Hello, Washington? It's the 21st Century calling. You're less important than you thought.

There is no reason why all 535 members of Congress need to live and work in Washington, DC, disconnected from their constituency. There is also no reason why Representatives should spend upwards of a quarter of each term campaigning and commuting -- or worse yet, ignoring votes entirely. It's time Congress came home to us, the People.

Hello, Washington? It's the 21st Century calling. You're less important than you thought.

There is no reason why all 535 members of Congress need to live and work in Washington, DC, disconnected from their constituency. There is also no reason why Representatives should spend upwards of a quarter of each term campaigning and commuting -- or worse yet, ignoring votes entirely. It's time Congress came home to us, the People.

My proposal is simple, and it needs just three words. Let Congress telecommute.

The benefits of this would be enormous, and the costs minimal -- except to the lobbyists, who currently find it quite convenient that they can bend everyone's ear since they're all in one place at one time. Each Congressman should have to live and have an office in the District he or she represents. This office could be owned by the Federal government, as that would certainly simplify matters whenever the seat changes hands, but it is not strictly necessary for this idea to work. All that is necessary is a data link back to Washington. The original concept of Congress centered around 18th century communications -- that is, Pony Express at best. In theory, we could have sent Congress home when the telegraph came into vogue, but that's understandably a bit impersonal. The earliest this idea would have been practical is when the telephone system allowed for 435 people to be on the same line at once -- which had happened by the 1960s at the latest. Still a bit impersonal, even if they could watch proceedings on TV and phone in their comments and votes.

But what's the excuse now? If there is anyone representing a district that has no reasonable data access, then they can be exempted to live in a nearby district that has such provisions. They'll still be a lot more accessible to their constituency than they are now. It will also mean a lot more to people when their Representative lives a couple miles away (as will generally be the case in urban districts) rather than a couple thousand miles away. The fact that they aren't going to talk to their Representative on any given day is irrelevant, what's important is that they feel like they CAN.

Senators should probably operate from the state capitol, unless they REALLY don't like each other. (It happens!) Or, they should live wherever they choose, within the state they represent, and furnish an office and data connection at their own expense if they prefer.

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1 comment

Telecommuting has other benefits (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 2 years ago | (#40731203)

I got tired some time of ago of whining about politicians and, just to keep my sense of humor, experimented with writing my own Constitution, mostly so I could say to myself "Yeh, I fixed that" when I read of the latest political nonsense. One I remember well was replacing the first 8 amendments with "the fundamental right of control of self and property", which I figured went right to the nub of the matter.

But I also decided that there should be no central meeting place for the legislature, for all the same reasons, and realized another benefit: it slows things down. Up until 1900 or so, when telephones became common enough, everything would have been done by snail mail. I don't think telegrams would have been good enough for most discussions. It would be just about impossible to rush a bill into law within hours or even a day or two. I decided to emphasize that, and another change I made was that every bill began with any legislator publishing it for a 30 day review period of both public comment and Congressional voting, during which legislators would sign up for or against it. The final vote tally would not be taken until the end of that 30 day period, during which legislators could change their vote at will. The legislator author could change the bill any time too, but this would restart the review period and negate all current votes.

You'd get much more deliberate law making, none of this fly-by-night stuff. You'd get rid of committees, filibusters, and all that other procedural claptrap which gives certain legislators so much power to push bills they like and block bills they don't like. Every legislator would be equal as far as publishing bills and voting on them. There would still be plenty of deals outside the public eye. Lobbyists would still exist. But that kind of power broking would be a lot harder to hide with all legislators having an equal say and without any central gathering.

One other thing I wanted: every law expires at the end of the next session (I had one year sessions) unless renewed. Of course, the natural reaction would be to lump all laws into one single law to be voted on as a single entity. The solution to that would be to require that if any part of a law is found unconstitutional or in any way defective, the entire law is thrown out, so lumping one hundred or one thousand laws together would provide some real risk of getting them all thrown out.

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