After spending [redacted] years in network news, covering every Presidential race from 1980 to 2004, my level of exhaustion and cynicism when it comes to politics is … epic. I vote in every election, because dammit-that’s-my-right-as-a-citizen, but often it’s a case of holding my nose and doing the best I can with the (rotten) choices I’m offered.
When I was invited to Capitol Hill last Tuesday, Dec. 13, to be in the room when a new Make Congress Work initiative was announced, I accepted with some of that exhaustion and cynicism. But like the old news warhorse I am, I saddled up and rode up I-95 to see what I could see.
What I saw made me feel like someone who’s been wandering in the wilderness for … ever, who stumbles upon a tidy little town that welcomes the weary wanderer with open arms. And gives her a job: help spread the news about the tidy little town. Help it grow into a big ol’ city.
So think of this as metaphorical political tourism. You can come along on the trip and enjoy the scenery with me.
Oh, come on, work with me, people. I’m a writer, and sometimes a comedian. I’ll bring this all home, I promise.
Here’s what happened: over 400 people showed up in the Caucus Room at the Cannon House Office Building to talk with, and listen to, a literal parade of bipartisan leaders from all points of the political compass.
The point? To break the chains of gridlock that have the folks we elected to represent us in a constant state of get-nothing-done.
That point was tidily contained in a 12-point plan to literally make Congress work. For its pay, for its privileges, and most importantly for the CITIZENS THAT ELECTED THEM TO OFFICE.
OK, I’ll stop shouting. I just get excited at the idea of those do-nothings actually doing something.
Here are the 12 points:
- No budget, no pay. [This is a personal favorite. If I don’t produce for my clients, I don’t get paid. Why should Congress?]
- Up-or-down vote on Presidential appointments. [Must vote within 90 days. No vote? Confirmed by default!]
- Fix the filibuster. [Sentimental memories of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are Hollywood fiction. What really happens is a process hijacking. It has to end in order for the business of our country to move forward.]
- Empower the sensible majority. [Simply stated: don’t let the wing-nuts run away with the game.]
- Make members come to work. [Love this one. They quote Woody Allen: 90% of life is just showing up. So … SHOW UP.]
- Question time for the President. [Britain’s Parliament has Q&A sessions, in public, with the Prime Minister. As should the President and Congress. Just sayin’ … ]
- Fiscal report to Congress: Hear it. Read it. Sign it. [The Comptroller General should give a where-we’re-at report annually. With real numbers. What a concept.]
- No pledge but the oath of office. [LOVE THIS. Grover Norquist and his ilk can go sit down and shut up.]
- Monthly bi-partisan gatherings. [It’s harder to demonize or vilify someone you actually know. ‘Nuf said.]
- Bi-partisan seating. [Sitting next to a member of the opposition makes you a little less likely to call him/her a dirtbag. Really.]
- Bi-partisan Leadership Committee. [No more R or D pep rallies. Leadership means making progress, even when the going gets tough.]
- No negative campaigns against incumbents. [What this means is that Senator Whoever with an R after his/her name can’t campaign against Senator Whichever with a D after his/her name. Stop the attack-ad insanity.]
Want to come hang out in the tidy little town? Join the No Labels movement. Share the message on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, skywriting, cave painting, whatever.
Let’s make this tidy town a bustling city. And get Congress to work for US for a change.
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it …