Bring Change to Congress

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on September 25, 2009

CongressEach member of Congress, with an ear for his or her community will hear thousands of ideas about what they should or should not be doing, and where they should or should not lend their support.  With 535 members of Congress, it is only natural that the network of ideas, beliefs, stances, and opinions are fairly complicated.  We can expect that the majority rule will allow some of these ideas to make into law.  We cannot expect, however, that a change in the manner by which Congress conducts business will ever gather the steam necessary to become law. 

Congress is designed to make moves in the nation’s political game; it is not designed to change the rules of that game.  When the public votes for a Senator or Representative, they vote for an individual and not a vision of how Congress should conduct its business.

This limited scope has proven a disastrous flaw in the system.  The CDS scandal currently devastating the American economy is the result of only one law that Congress voted on. More specifically, it is the result of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.  This bill was piggybacked onto a much larger bill in the final hours of a Congressional session—so late in the game, in fact, that there could not have been time for members of Congress to even read it.  If we try to imagine laws which would have prevented such a calamity, it is immediately apparent that these laws would have to directly affect the way that Congress does business.  Perhaps, we might require a certain amount of time for each bill so that it can be, at the very least, read.  Or perhaps, we could suggest a law that outlaws the practice of piggybacking.  Either way, the laws would reference Congressional procedure rather than American public policy. 

It is hard to imagine how, with the system as it now stands, such laws could be put into place.  Congress is unlikely to reform itself because of an obvious conflict of interest.  The public cannot reform the system because it is never presented with a unified vision of how Congress ought to be changed.  The President is unlikely to want to change how Congress operates because no President can afford to alienate most members of Congress. 

Clearly, what needs to be put in place is some other committee or group that is capable of bringing before the American public laws concerning the way Congress conducts business.  With its system of checks and balances, such a power cannot simply be given over to one of the existing branches of the federal government.  If the President were given the power to make such laws, we can expect that abuse of this power could become a problem.  We suggest as one possible option the idea of a body composed of each of the nation’s State Governors.  Each Presidential election, this body would present two proposals to be put to vote by the American public.  These proposals would focus on the manner in which Congress conducts its business.  In this way, the possibility for change would not be reliant upon politicians whose welfare is tied to an unchanging congressional operating procedure, but would be dictated directly by the American people.

Discussion

Miss Concerned
how do you feel about congress being well represented?,...should there be a change? Have we left anyone out?
January 25 at 15:47 pm

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