Timothy Egan yesterday wrote an op-ed for The New York Times arguing that U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ tenure as a representative to her home state of Washington’s government and her current job as a representative to the federal government puts her at odds with her very stances on reducing government. Does Ms. McMorris Rodgers past and current roles as a representative to her state and the federal government really disqualify her as an opponent of she views as an unnecessary expansion of government intrusion into private lives and markets? I don’t think so. Unfortunately representatives to the government have allowed themselves to be looked at and treated as part of the government because Uncle Sam cuts their checks.
I know that my view may seem to many to run awry or diverge from the commonplace interpretation that Congress is a branch of the government, but in order for representatives to optimize their oversight and criticism of government, it is time to start viewing congressmen as not being members of the government.
In my view, the executive is the government. It carries out the laws that society, through its representatives to the government, has deemed necessary for the peace and tranquility of the nation including the protection of our personal liberties and defense from invaders. Congress makes sure that the government is behaving itself.
Maybe representatives to the federal government should put a little distance between themselves and government by having their states pick up the tab directly for their living and working expenses in Washington, or have the states contribute to a separate congressional maintenance fund that in turn pays members of Congress and their staff ensuring that all the members receive the same pay and benefits.
But if Mr. Egan’s point was to use Ms. McMorris Rodgers’ past and current roles as a representative to government as an argument supporting the existence and benefits of the State, he has made a weak argument. The current majority view of what a representative is, however, will only serve to keep his argument in play.