Squeaky is on hiatus this week, so I’ll take a swing at a political issue :)

How would I fix congress?  Throw out the bums and start from scratch?  An interesting idea, but not quite what I have in mind.  I’d like to make some fundamental changes to the way congress works.

Take the politicians out of Washington – What do a Representative from Butte, Montana and a Senator from Earlville, Iowa have in common?  They are occupying office space costing many multiples of what similar space would cost in their home towns, while at the same time distancing themselves geographically from their constituents.  Sure, some members of congress make frequent trips back to their home districts, but at a considerable financial cost.  Why not utilize technology to create a virtual congress?  Videoconferencing can be used during committee meetings and debates.  A staffer can read a 1000 page bill just as easily in a cozy office in middle America as she can in a cramped D.C. room – and likely with fewer distractions.  How much money could be saved by relocating thousands of staffers out of DC – and how much more easily could the politicians remain in touch with their constituents.

Would this make things a bit more difficult for lobbyists?  Sure … but are we really concerned with the well-being of lobbyists?

No more career politicians – I don’t think I’m in favor of term limits, per se, (as I’m in favor of allowing voters to make their own decisions) but I think it would be better to have representatives who were more REPRESENTATIVE of their constituents.  I’m referring to this definition from dictionary.com: “exemplifying a class or kind; typical”.  Take a look at your local 5 term Senator – would you consider him/her to be a typical resident of your district?  I’d like to see congress look more like a small town school board or town council – people filling thankless roles out of a sense of duty to the community, without regard to financial rewards.

How to fix this?  I’m not sure.  Maybe cut off the salary after one terms?  Or even remove the concept of seniority and put all members of congress at the exact same level.

Vote on the issues –  Let’s imagine that you care more about the environment than any other issue, but none of your congressional candidates (in either party) shares your views.  Or imagine that your views on immigration side with the Republican candidate but your views on environmental issues align with the Democratic candidate.  Regardless of whom you vote for, you’re championing one issue at the expense of the other.

In today’s world, should geography remain the factor that officially identifies blocks of voters?  Instead of voting on candidates who will represent your state, why not vote on a slate of candidates who will represent your INTERESTS instead.  Let’s take the standing committees in the Senate and House as a starting point.  Reshape the House of Representatives so that each of the 435 members of the house is a standing member of ONE committee.  When we vote, we’d vote for an Agriculture representative, Foreign Relations representative, Veterans’ Affairs representative, etc.

Would each committee be heavily influence by the voters in the large states?  Probably.  However,  this isn’t really that unfair – those states have more citizens, and we believe in equal representation for each citizen, not equal representation for each state.  It’s also quite possible that the big states will cancel either other out – for example, if the Texas voters weigh heavily one one side of the issue and California voters come down on the other side.

Want to ensure some broad based support of bills?  OK, you can keep the Senate.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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