Congress’s job approval rating has been consistently below 30% since 2009 and is currently at 12.4%. The blatant lack of faith Americans have in Congress can be blamed on gridlock, partisanship, and corruption. If only there was a way to address these grievances, Congress could function again and actually serve the people. I argue that such a solution does exist. Kick congressman out of Washington.
Let federal Congressman live, vote, and debate from their home state via the internet. Senators can have offices in their state capitols and representatives can have offices in their individual districts. There is no need for them to all be forced together in one building. Below are 5 benefits of sending the Congressman back home in order of importance.
1. Fish in a barrel for lobbyists – If there is one issue that the most extreme Occupier and Tea Partier can agree on, it is that lobbyists are bad. They are the source of unimaginable amounts of corruption and prevent government from functioning as intended. Why should we make their jobs so easy for them? We have put all three branches of government on one silver platter, known as the National Mall, and reserved every corporation a seat at the table. A company needs only to set up one office in one city to have access to every federal level politician.
If congresspeople had their offices in their home states, the Legislative branch will have been scattered across all 50 states and the costs for lobbyists to access them all will increase. Perhaps then corporations will decide to spend more money on innovation and self-improvement instead of wasting it on crony capitalism. I do not doubt that some lobbyist will persist none the less, but it at least makes their job substantially harder.
2. Live with constituents – Keeping congresspeople at home keeps them closer to the issues that the people they represent care about. It also gives greater access to voters who usually only see their representative during election season. Local news stations can play a big part as well. They can bring the collective voice of the constituents to the representative’s attention and provide responses via interviews. I doubt that CNN or Fox News ask Paul Ryan the same questions his constituents back in the 1st district of Wisconsin want asked.
3. Reduce partisanship – As long as the entire Congress works from D.C., there will never be a lack of partisan group think. I guarantee that Boehner and Reid don’t kick back drinks together at Union Pub after work. Instead, they join their respective cliques and talk about how stupid the other side is. This has the potential to change if they are separated.
Focusing on issues that are important to the people they represent can bring two politicians of different parties together, and encourages them to do what is best for their constituents. Also, states such as Ohio (one senator from each party), do not provide the vast amounts of like-minded colleges for paralyzing groupthink to form.
4. Washington environment – Washington goes to peoples’ heads. The grandiose buildings and grand statues cause people who work in Washington to instantly develop a unavoidable, handicapping ego. This can be observed in everyone from the most senior Congressmen to the brand new Capitol Hill intern that just got his shiny new badge. If congressmen work from their home states, there will undoubtedly be less architectural fertilizer for egotistical minds.
5. National Security – This one should be obvious. The same silver platter we are serving to the lobbyists is being served to anyone who wants to take out the U.S. government as well. I’m not complaining about the security here in Washington, it’s amazing, but nothing is perfect. Spreading out the top levels of government only makes sense from a security view point.
Advancing technology requires us to look at traditions and customs in new ways. It is no longer necessary for congressmen to remain in Washington in order for them to do their jobs. In fact, it has become detrimental to our democracy. It’s time to bring them home. Hopefully they’ll leave the corruption behind.