Fixing the Washinton Dis-Connect

Dear Readers!

Few would argue : there is great dis-connect between Washington legislators and public needs and wants.

In the last month I’ve received two email forwards proposing means to legally address conditions that lead to this disconnect.

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The first proposes a constitutional amendment that each and every piece of legislation with any effect on lives of the general population will, by law, apply to each and every congressperson. As an amendment, it is reasonably well written. Brief, to the point, following an equally brief rationale. There is no identified author, and no linked website, so there is no “place” available as a focus of further development. :

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn’t pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Health-care Reform that is being considered…in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn’t seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States”.

I did not check out claims made in the rationale. If the general claim is correct, it seems to me argument for legislation that lessens the possibility of dis-connect.

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The second arrived a few days ago. Like the first, no author is given, and there is no link to a “citizen action” website specific to the plan. This one calls for a legislative act to limit terms of those serving in congress. It is based on the premise that “career” legislators gradually become less connected to constituents they serve, and more connected to the Washington “scene”, including those who have immediate access (the lobby industry, for example.)

The second also addresses several ways in which congresspeople do not experience the same economic realities as do their constituents.

Congressional Reform Act of 2010 

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six year Senate terms

B. Six Two year House terms

C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

2. No Tenure / No Pension: A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office. (Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security: All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people. (Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans. (Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.).

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%. (Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.).

6. Congress looses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people. (Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people. (Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/11 . The American people did not make this contract with congressmen, congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. (Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

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For all I know, these are authored by the same individual or group. The proposals serve a function by stirring public thought, although without a website link, or open listing of recipients (rather than use of bcc), they cannot easily generate national open discussion.

A pity!

What I like about both these proposals is that they ‘nail’ aspects of legislative service that foster the disconnect which presently trumps the  notion of “of, by, and for, the people”. Even the most well-intended congressperson can gradually succumb to special interest manipulations by uncountable lobby groups in the Washington environment.

Most of us do not routinely “stay in touch with” economic realities of groups that do not more or less match our own. Small wonder that our legislators do not! Term limits might be a solution.

I also like the way the writer of the second proposal emphasizes service over career, and emphasizes the original intent for “citizen legislators.”

We know experience counts. But if all legislators were term-limited, the contrast between “newbies” and “established” would be less. New legislators would not be “going up against” 20-year careerists; those with more experience would have less “status” currency. The playing field would be somewhat more level.

It occurs to me that we, the citizen body, can pursue term limits for congresspeople even without an act being passed. We recognize experience is valuable, but after a time a disconnect develops, and it’s time to bring in someone new. We can count years served, and vote accordingly.

As to legislators receiving special economic or other benefit that promotes a dis-connect, we can insist on modification or reversal of these, and again – vote accordingly.

In any case, there is no doubt “something” needs changing about the “Washington experience” as it arrives back here at home!

It behooves us also to maintain personal mindfulness of our own inclination to seek “special economic benefit” coming out of Washington. Washington is to some extent an amplified version of “ordinary human inclination” to enjoy special favor, and to neglect awareness of anyone outside our regular contact, or “group”.

Either the entire country orients toward greater “common weal” outcomes, or widespread disconnects and disinterest in one another’s realities will break us apart.

My best to you on this still wintery morning! – MaggieAnn

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About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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2 Responses to Fixing the Washinton Dis-Connect

  1. Isadore says:

    “We do not have an elite that is above the law.”

    In a representative Democracy All members of the government, the house of representatives, the senate and the office of the president receive their authority from the people of the nation. They, by their acceptance of office take on a grave responsibility to the people who elected them, and although it may be an honor to be selected to carry out the duties of the office it is primarily a responsibility and NOT a priveledge. This is the ideal.

    We do have an elite that has placed themselves above the law.

    “Washington is to some extent an amplified version of ordinary human inclination to enjoy special favor,and to neglect awareness of anyone outside our regular contact, or group.” So it is not surprising that ‘Washington’ being made of ordinary people is prone to the weaknesses of the the ordinary such as a desire for personal priveledge as manifested by the special treatment elected members of the government have given themselves and their willingness to be bought by the ruling class whose best intrests are served by maintaining the disconnect between Washington legislators and the public. This is the real.

    It is unrealistic to expect the government, congress, senate and president, to give up their priveledge willingly. Unlike returning conquering roman generals being paraded through the streets of Rome on a chariot they do not have someone holding a laurel wreath over their heads constantly reminding them they are only men and women.
    Harry Truman remembered.

    The public is largely responsible for creating and maintaining the ‘disconnect’ by adulating and honoring ordinary people who were merely elected to an office in the government, they are public servants and no more deserving of honor than those who put them there, and as for priveledge, it is inconsistant in the practice of a true Democracy.

    “I have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us.” (J.S.)

    Keep up the good work of stimulating the rest of us to remember who we are.

    Thank you for a clear second voice to a shared theme! The ‘who we are’ awakening comes, I suppose, in its own time, as we are ‘ready’. Still a long way to go it seems – even for me and us who have made it a project! 🙂 –MA

  2. dirtclustit says:

    may Goddess bless you lovely MaggieAnn with a pleasant merry meet!

    … and you! … what fine words there where you are … -MA
    (Dustywho.wordpress.com is inactive, a loss! -MA)

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