Skip to comments.Time for Congress to Telecommute
Posted on 03/26/2014 5:43:15 PM PDT by Kaslin
Few Americans have ever met their Congresspeople. They don't see them at the grocery store; they don't meet them at the bowling alley. They're more likely to see their representatives in photographs from the Daily Grill in Washington, D.C., than at a local town hall. Constituents' closest contact with those they elect comes on Election Day, when they punch a chad next to a name.
This is precisely the opposite of how government was supposed to work.
In Federalist No. 46, James Madison posited that members of Congress would "generally be favorable to the States" from which they sprang, rather than toward the federal government. The federal government had to be part-time, given the distances between the states and the time required to travel. Politicians generally ended up in Washington, D.C., for just a few years in the early days of the Republic. That part-time government led to smaller government. Representatives showed up to vote on issues of major import to their constituents; then they went home to live among those who voted for them.
With the dramatic increase in ease of transportation and the incredible decrease in the amount of time required to travel between far-flung areas of the United States, representatives began spending more and more time in Washington and less and less time in their home districts. The first session of Congress, which lasted from March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1791, ran a grand total of 519 days. During the 109th Congress, lasting from Jan. 4, 2005, to Dec. 8, 2006, Congress was in session for a whopping 692 days.
And Congresspeople spent more of that time in D.C. Many Congresspeople spend their weeks in Washington and fly home on weekends, if that often. Approximately eight in 10 Congresspeople spend more than 40 weekends per year in their districts, according to the Congressional Management Foundation and the Society for Human Resource Management.
This has a predictable impact: Congresspeople do not fear their constituents. They simply don't see them often enough to fear them. That's why Democrats crammed through Obamacare in the dead of night over the Christmas holiday -- they hoped to escape the wrath of their constituents. Members of Congress have more in common with the people they hobnob in Washington, D.C., than they do with the people they're supposed to represent.
But now there's an easy solution: telecommuting. Why should Congresspeople have to visit D.C.? Thanks to Skype, meetings are possible across the country. Thanks to email, communications are simple. And we've had the technology to vote from afar for decades. Why should we have backroom deals made over cigars thousands of miles distant from those who are affected by those deals? Instead, let's put Congresspeople among those who must choose them -- and let's let them live with the consequences of their decision-making.
If Washington is the problem, then telecommuting could be the solution. It's time to make our representatives answerable to their communities rather than their dinner buddies. And the way to do that is to keep them close, rather than allowing them to roam free with our tax dollars far from home.
I want them sequestered in their districts too.
Not just House Members but Senate Members as well.
There is no reason for 435 select individuals to bask in self-importance and asskissing by being away from the districts they represent.
We could go back to proportional representation; one congressmen per 30-50,000 constituents. These reps would remain in their states among the people they represent, most likely still doing the jobs they had before they sought the office.
No reason that votes couldn’t be held by computer linkups.
But this will never happen because it would break the backs of the national parties Demon and Repulsive. And how would cretins like Rahm Immanuel intimidate someone in the house gym.
We need to turn DC into a museum and move the capitol to mid America. Iowa Kansas or some where with a nice view of Leavenworth.
I advocated this to a POL over 15 years ago when I was living in OK.
Texas Legislature meets ever 2 years unless a special session is called. Has served us well for a very long time.
It is TIME to DownSize DC! Close entire Rogue/Unconstitutional Departments.
Move the Center of Gravity of the Fed Gov away from DC forever.
This is the only path out of this mess.
It is Time to Gut and Field Dress DC!
Interesting that you only mention the reps but leave the senators completely off. Unless you don’t know that Congress has 535 members
Congress should be in session approximately 45 days at the beginning of each congress to pass a two budget or the government will shut down. Then they should be in session for 20 days at the end of each congress to handle any urgent matters. (Hint: there are no urgent matters. There are already too many laws.) They should be paid 65 days work. If there is a true emergency, such as declaring war, the President can call them back to DC.
Correct and I am sure this is what Ben Shapiro meant
The senate is supposed to have an entirely different character than the House. As the emissaries of sovereign states they should be closer and more watchful of the central govt.
Repeal the 17th Amendment.
This is silliness. Naive silliness.
They will not “fear” their constituents from having to see them...in fact, they won’t see them anymore than they do now. The only thing an elected official fears is the ballot box, and all problems of government are the fault of the voters (us), not the elected people who do exactly what they are sent there to do. They are not sent to pass budgets, secure the national defense, or any other constitutional task. They are sent to extract largesse from the treasury and send it back home. This is a cultural sickness that infects the population, and not a problem with the “politicians”, who will always just do what will get them re-elected.
And that is exactly what they do. They can make deals with each other so that they all get more money out than their home districts put in (or appear to do so), and all get nice jobs for life. The government runs at as a permanent deficit (until it collapses). This is an unavoidable structural Ponzi-like dynamic in every large central government, and no “reform”, or gimmick, or tweak, or “better people in Washington”, will fix it. You cannot create incentives for A, and expect to get B.
Also make it a part time job.