As I turned off the election results of 2012 last night what resonated with me is that I lost any real interest in the presidential election many months ago. It was not because of over saturation of television ads, mailers and robocalls. Being in solidly blue California this state only served the role of being an open checking account for both parties looking to bankroll a $1B+ campaign expenditure. It was not because my personal beliefs are that each have some character flaws that prevent them from reaching a similar level of achievement from some of our great presidential leaders of the past. Rather it’s the fact that it became pretty clear that nearly every incumbent in the house of representatives and senate was on track to win re-election, thus ensuring the American people inherited the same dysfunctional congress that refuses to work together in any meaningful way and act in their own best interests to ensure future re-election and personal prosperity. Sub15% approval rating collectively for Congress does not deter each parties polarizing actions that promote an even greater divide and frankly why should it if we just keep re-electing them anyway? I no longer say shame on them. Rather shame on us, the constituents that they are allegedly representing for essentially endorsing their actions.
With the election over I want to make the case for a new era of rational politics. Where compromise, negotiation and deal making is not looked upon as being weak but rather a character trait that we not only strive for but demand in the policy makers we elect to office going forward. It’s a trait I rely on every day in my sales career. Hell my 5 and 8 year old sons have already mastered the trait as they trade off between what they want (treats and toys) and what they have to do to get it (chores and homework) Why can’t congress figure this out?
I propose over the next 2 years we focus more on the collective efforts of our congressional representatives (house and senate) and less on a singular leader who can influence but ultimately not write the policy that will greatly affect the future of our great country. In order to do that there has to be a rallying point that serves the best interests of all citizens. A call to action for congress to align on legislative policy that is simple to outline and easy to track for compliance of our congressional representatives and is non-partisan in nature. Consider this the Rational Congress Act of 2012
1. Congress shall pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution by end of the 2013 next congressional session and instill a long term debt reduction plan.
It is in every citizen’s collective best interests to get the U.S. pulled back from our fiscal crisis. This cannot be fixed with just spending cuts. This cannot be fixed with just tax increases. No program is sacred. No idea too stupid. Pass the amendment with no provision for breaking this without a supermajority. Then lock yourselves in a room and figure out a long term U.S. debt reduction plan that will span a 30-35 year horizon to pay off. Given the absurd bill we’ve run up it’s going to take that long and possibly longer. Its time to sober up from a drunken generation of spending.
2. Congress shall pass stringent campaign finance reform.
Rarely if ever does corporate America nor high wealth individuals who invest heavily to influence legislative policy have the collective best interests of the average U.S. citizen in mind. Similarly congressional representatives are too weak to avoid the influence of these special interest groups and individuals. They are human afterall (allegedly) Congress will pass campaign finance reform that limits contributions of individuals and corporations and enact stringent firewalls with special interest groups and lobbyists to reduce if not eliminate policy making decisions. The reform will likely be far from perfect but it has to start somewhere and will symbolically represent that congress is aware they need to be regulated in this capacity when writing policy.
3. Invoke a Congressional member civility and bipartisan score index.
Can’t we all just get along? Its unfortunate that the extremely divided congress we have today is influencing the next generation of voters who think this is normal and acceptable behavior. It’s ok to disagree. It’s ok to be passionate. It’s not ok to insult, tell lies and stop acting in the best interests of their constituents and the U.S. population. It’s completely unenforceable but I propose the creation of a non partisan congressional behavior index. Each congressional member has a score based on traceable and straightforward metrics agreed upon by a panel of representatives from each house and each party. Metrics that measure both positive and negative score influencing acts. Things like attendance statistics in congress, votes cast across party lines, filibusters invoked (the opposite of negotiation) participation in committees that result in bipartisan policy passed into law, and anything else that promotes the collective best interests of this country. At the next election each congressional members score is identified and posted for all voters to see.
Every congressional member is given the benefit of the doubt from day one and will ultimately own their fate depending on their ability to execute to fulfill these 3 simple, straightforward but ultimately crucial policies to help get our country back on track to being more unified. Those who do not vote in favor of all three and maintain a minimum bipartisan score index are subject to being voted out office, regardless of party affiliation.
That’s it. It’s time to put congress on notice and tell them what we want for once. Or atleast what I want but I don’t think I’m alone.