Your View: Guest column - Let’s shake Congress up with real change
BY MARSHALL WHITE
Let’s face it. We’re lousy managers! Look at our Congress in Washington. These employees supposedly made up of our best, have used their talents to secure their livelihoods, enrich themselves, and accomplish as little as is humanly possible. It’s like the bad union stories, where workers are paid exorbitant wages to sit and do nothing. We’ve allowed our employees to run the company aground. What was the last thing our Congress did that you considered a job well done?
The basic cause of this illness is that our Congress no longer works for either its citizens or the nation as a whole. After the election they forget their district and they forget this country. They’ve rigged the game where their lack of performance doesn’t hurt them. You see the extent of the problem when you realize that Grover Norquist has far more congressmen working for him than the people of California, New York, and Texas combined.
A few modest proposals.
We need to take the redistricting function out of partisan hands. In 2012, despite getting a majority of the votes cast, N.C. Democrats won four of the 13 races due to the successful gerrymandering of the congressional districts. This is a common tactic nationally. The result of these practices is that there are few competitive districts in America. Without competition we have democracy in name only. We should use the same computer programs that are used to create the bizarrely shaped districts that populate our nation to create the most geographically compact regions possible and let the politics fall where they may. Representatives forced to serve a more varied constituency would trend more ideologically moderate.
Let’s increase the number of congressmen. The goal used to be not to exceed one congressman to represent 30,000 constituents. That would be hard to go back to but each N.C. congressman now represents about 750,000 citizens. We should peg the base number of constituents served per congressman to approximate one-half of the number of the least populous state. This would give N.C. about 34 congressmen. Limit staff funding to one assistant, forcing our “representatives” to do their own legwork which would enable them to get to know the people that they serve and us to know them. Remember, congressmen are highly paid staff: not management! Additionally, if the districts in most states are redone every 10 years, then relatively few congressmen will have comfortable seats.
Let’s get the big and outside money out of the process. Money is not equivalent to speech. A billionaire doesn’t have a million times the right of speech than I do just because he has the resources and a billionaire in California shouldn’t have more access to my congressman than I do. Citizens United must be overturned. To disagree with Mitt Romney “Corporations AREN’T people my friend,” and neither are unions or PACs. Money should only be donated to campaigns by individuals in limited (modest) quantities and only if you have a presence in the district a politician represents. The sources of money used in political commercials must be disclosed. You can only judge a political statement if you know who is making it. We are moving toward a democracy that is controlled by the people that have the biggest microphone, not the best ideas.
Democracy is only a tool; one that we have allowed to grow rusty through neglect. If you are tired of watching our representatives represent themselves, let’s shake things up and show them who they work for. It might be an enlightening experience for them and an uplifting one for our country.
Marshall White lives in Archdale.