Mr. Smith Texts Washington

All we ever hear about politicians and politics in general is how corrupt they are. Everyday someone is lambasting congress, a representative, the president, or some decision that was made for its ineptitude. You don’t have to look for very long on Google to find an article or poll that illustrates how disliked and untrustworthy the American people feel their representatives are. Whether it be big donors, lobbyists, or back room deals, no one today would leave their kids with a politician for the weekend. It’s a corrupt system where nothing is being done right, done fast enough, or with enough honesty about what the American people really need or how their interests would best be served.

I for one think that everyone in power to decide is robbing Peter to pay Paul far too often, and it seems the American people want more accountability. Instead of making an unpopular decision, they make no decision. Both sides of the aisle want to win instead of compromise and move things forward. It’s that kind of pride that is inherent in Washington. No one wants to lose, so we the people are the losers in the end.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, someone saying they could do a better job than those fat cats in Washington. Everyone seems to think that those on Capitol Hill are awful at their job. Well, we elected them, right? Isn’t it kind of our fault for voting for a bunch of assholes we know won’t work together in the first place?

What if there was a different way to do things though? What if we turned the system on its head and our representatives starting doing our bidding? I wouldn’t be opposed to putting the gavel back in the peoples’ hand and letting us take the reins. Put the onus on the people and who do we have to blame for things but ourselves? If the responsibility fell to you, if the actions of this country fell in to your lap, wouldn’t you take things a bit more seriously? It’s easy for us to say that this is the way it is, it’s not going to change, and politics is just screwed up and we have to live with it. Or do we?

The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different result. For the outcome to change the process needs to change. I am sure you can find more than a few polls that illustrate the fact that Americans don’t like the direction this country is headed. Maybe the problem starts with how we make the decisions, and who we elect to represent our best interests. Maybe the problem isn’t the politics but the process.

We vote, and then we are completely hands-off. We give our power of choice to someone who had the best slogan and the most campaign money. We elect the most charming person who was preened and built from the ground up. There are whole teams of people who were integral in designing the persona that you elected. They said all the right things and did all the right things to gain your trust. Once in power, all we can do is organize meaningless protests and yell in to the uncaring maw of the body politic. We are now powerless from then until the next election.

The U.S. democratic process was a novel and needed idea before telephones, radio, and TV. The idea of electing a representative was utterly necessary for everyone’s voice to be heard in an emerging country that wrote its Constitution by candlelight. In a time when some didn’t have running water and indoor plumbing, I get it, we needed to send our best and brightest to Washington to make our decisions for us. The world was large and mysterious then. People were poorly, if at all, educated. People were more concerned with staying alive than they were with foreign policy and Constitutional amendments.

Times have changed though. Technology has reached a point where the world is small and at our fingertips. People are able to be directly involved in what is happening in this country. Despite what the primetime network TV lineup might indicate, people are savvy about the world; at least more so than a homesteader 200 years ago. There are no town criers and the newspaper isn’t our source for all information. We can be participants now, thanks to our advances on the technological front, so I say it’s time we were.

I want to take the power away from our representatives. The House and the Senate don’t get to make decisions anymore. They get to make the budgets, write all the law changes, they can even filibuster and stall to a point; but it is time we got to decide on more than who is in that room.

It’s a simple change. My representative from my state or my district, does what the people decide. Is there a motion for a vote on a bill? Well, my representative votes how his or her constituents want to vote. Voters are asked to submit their vote on a central website, or via text message even, and when the voting is over, that is what my representative does. The people say yes, than the vote is to pass. The people say no, then his or her vote is no. You do what I say now, Congress. Frankly, you’re not really anything but my conduit to the Senate floor. You do my bidding. I’m in charge.

Congress still gets to make their presentations, you can watch them on C-SPAN and CNN. They still get to write bills, author things, champion a cause, but their vote directly reflects the majority vote of the constituents they represent. No longer do they get to make deals with other Senators and representatives. No more give and take or shady closed-door handshakes. Now, if you want to vote on something, it’s put to the people. I am taking the lobbyist money, the campaign donation pandering, and the silver spoon out of your mouths, Congress. The circus is over.

You might argue many things against this idea. People are too busy to intelligently understand the ins and outs of national policy. Then it is my representative’s job to educate me, if I want to know. They should take the time to let me know the pros and cons of a yes or no vote. The bill should be readily available as a downloadable PDF for me to look over. I should be given a span of time, maybe a week, to cast my vote, not just one day. If your argument is that Americans are too stupid to be a direct part of their constituency, fuck you. If your argument is that people are too busy to text yes or no to a number then you’ve never seen Big Brother or American Idol. What, no one would actually vote? Well, barely half this country votes for the President, so I’m not losing sleep over a lack of turn-out via text message if you’re not.

Imagine a Congress that directly represents our interests and not their own. Congressmen are despised for their ineptitude and the corruption in lobbyists and deal making. Let’s take that away from them. Eliminate their right to choose and do the deciding for them. Let the lobbyists and the superpacs spend their money on commercials and campaigns to sway your vote. I can ignore the bullshit if you can. Get the power out of Washington and in to your own hands by being a participant. This idea is all about throwing off the shackles of our archaic system of government and getting the power back to the people. How do we not want this more?

I’m not the first guy to put forth this radical idea. At least, I assume that I’m not. There is no way that some high school educated asshole from Oregon is the first person to surmise that the only way to get the corruption out of politics is to get the politicians out of it. Am I? You know you’ve thought about it in one way or another. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been a part of the decision to install the Patriot Act, or any number of other bills and rights that Congress flippantly argues about? I know I want to be heard on whether my representatives are voting as their constituency would vote. It’s time we installed the same technology we use to vote people off of American Idol, and apply that technology to something that really matters. Don’t worry, you don’t need to get off the couch, you can decide the fate of your nation from a La-Z-Boy. I just ask that we be allowed to directly influence on a local level what happens at a national level. Mr. Smith may not be able to go to Washington, but he can text it, and it’s ridiculous that we don’t.

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