Congress is not the only group that needs to hit the reset button. American voters need to take a timeout from the “boom rah-rah” approach we take to politics. We view politics too much like a football game; a bloodsport where the greater the one-liners and vitriol, the more likeable and electable the candidate. It is the only reason why the likes of a Sarah Palin can still be mentioned as a possible presidential candidate and the populist rantings of a Barney Frank or Henry Waxman are allowed to drive up the decibel levels.
When a political system is authorized to take resources from its people for the purpose of regulating commerce and providing for a national defense, this system should be focused on seeking the best solutions that optimize the use of those resources. Instead, our electorate awards the most votes to political engineers who tinker with the black box solely for the purpose of short term gain i.e. re-election in two or six years. The frustration lies in realizing how lacking our returns are from this investment.
Ironically, while we unjustifiably attack the incentives for compensation on Wall Street, we hesitate to address the incentives that keep congressmen coming back to the Washington feeding trough. Instead, we settle for venting on non-substantive issues like which congressman is sleeping with a page and which senator left his wife or other social value issues that are best left for the dinner table or the bedroom.
So where do we start when it comes to changing our mindset? First, we have to admit that we don’t know a damned thing about government. Second, we need to go into our kids’ school bags and borrow a copy of the Constitution from their social studies books. You will be amazed at the neat stuff you will find in that document. Third, we need to look at what drives congressmen to focus on vote getting instead of problem solving. Once we identify those incentives, the next step should be to get rid of the perks that keep them in Washington.
This is really the type of change we should be seeing in Washington. No congressman in his right mind after a couple terms should want to overstay their welcome. In the real game of football, even Brett Favre has to retire.