Monday, September 30, 2019

Fixing Congress?

I don't know if Congress needs fixing so much as parties need to win the majority to get anything done, and that's not mentioning that you'd better have a president of your party in the White House. If you get that, you'll have a fully functional Congress. Absent that, you'll get what we're having: lots of people unhappy at the slow pace of "progress" and continued moaning about the dysfunction of our government. Sounds like a never ending cycle.

In any case, an interesting piece, at Politico, "When Impeachment Meets a Broken Congress":

Even before getting into the weeds of its myriad other problems—poor staff retention, centralized decision-making, generational logjams—it’s not difficult to understand why the legislative branch is struggling to function. From the moment they launch their first campaigns, future members of Congress are entering into one giant warped incentive system that deters any meaningful challenge to The Way Things Work in Washington. Most members will profess to despise The Way Things Work in Washington, of course, especially when they first get here. But it tends to grow on them over time—not because it’s working, but because it’s comfortable. Where else can someone draw a salary of $174,000; have a staff of several dozen catering to their (and their family’s) every whim; enjoy special access to information and resources at the highest levels of government; forge lucrative relationships with people of immense power and influence; take taxpayer-funded jaunts to all corners of the country and the world; and command constant attention from the local and national media—all in exchange for producing little in the way of tangible outcomes?

None of this is to say that all members of Congress are bad people who are bad at what they do. To the contrary, many of them are fine people who came here for the right reasons. And some of them are really, really good at what they do, hustling 16 hours a day to deliver for their constituents. But even honorable people with honorable intentions look out for themselves, for their families, for their careers. Members of Congress are no exception. They have wonderfully important jobs. They don’t want to lose them.

Few people come to Congress wanting to be enforcers of the status quo. Every two years, Washington welcomes a new crop of wide-eyed, idealistic lawmakers who believe—really, truly believe—that they’ve been sent to shake things up in the nation’s capital. They are going to take the tough votes. They are going to stand up to the special interests. They are going to do what’s right by their constituents, even if that means getting the boot after one term.

Naturally, that sort of idealism doesn’t last. Once a member of Congress realizes he or she will never find a better job — and most of them know they will never find a better job — many will accept that some compromises are necessary to keep it. They adjust. They adapt. They play the game. They convince themselves that a mindless vote here, or a hurtful decision there, is worth it to sustain their career. They hang around long enough to amass more power, to win a chairmanship, to exert influence over certain issues, to cash out and take a life-changing paycheck from a lobbying firm, all the while believing their ends were justified by their means.

“I won’t miss a lot of things about this place,” Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican who agitated constantly against his party’s leadership, said prior to his retirement last year. “I think some people lose their soul here. This is a place that sucks your soul. It takes everything from you.”
More at that top link.


SR said...
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SR said...
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