Suggestions on How We Should Treat Our Congressmen
When the Founding Fathers made this country, they were sick and tired of tyrants. Run-around-shooting-people-with-red-coats tired. So when they designed our government, they put in a bunch of measures to protect us from being pushed around by tyrants. And it worked okay … I guess.
Right now, we have all our legislators throwing around trillions of dollars and coming up with new laws to inflict on us (it's going to be illegal now not to own health insurance; did they even have health insurance when the Founding Fathers were around?). And as we see with people like Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, these legislators just do whatever they want and act like they own the country. So basically we traded having one big, petty tyrant pushing us around for a bunch of little, even pettier tyrants all competing to push us around. And while I guess that is a lot better when you compare it to governments throughout history, it still kinda sucks.
Now that we've been doing this whole democracy/republic thing for a few hundred years, it's time to assess where things didn't work out as planned. I mean, having all these useless, arrogant people spending like a third of all our incomes is obviously not what the Founding Fathers intended. If they found out about it, they'd probably just start firing their muskets everywhere in a total rage. And if they got their hands on some modern weaponry, who knows what damage they could do; just think of the lobby scene from The Matrix, but instead of Keanu Reeves, it’s a royally pissed Ben Franklin. So it's probably good that the Founding Fathers are all dead, because we need cool heads to figure out how to fix things.
Anyway, I guess the whole idea for how our country would work was that we'd basically govern ourselves and hire some people -- our representative and senators -- to represent us in the federal government, as none of us have time for that. And since we'd all elect them together out of our entire population, we'd pick only the best people to do it.
But here's the problem. Who are the people who tend to run for political office? Political office is hard to get and takes a lot of effort, so only ambitious people seek it. That wouldn’t be so bad if we got smart/ambitious -- and the useful kind of smart, not the pointless write-a-doctoral-thesis-on-transgender-Native-American-pottery "smart."
But what do ambitious, capable people do in this country? They start their own businesses and lead successful lives comfortably away from the fickleness of the ballot box. So that just leaves the people who are ambitious but useless and just love the thought of being able to meddle in all the useful things everyone else is doing. And then the whole election process, where the politicians constantly lie and change their positions on issues to keep their jobs, tends to weed out the people who aren't also sociopaths. So the system we have has basically set us up to be governed by ambitious, useless sociopaths who love to meddle in everything actual contributors to society are doing. So lawyers, for the most part.
And when you put these people in charge, of course they're going to just try to grab more power so they can interfere even more, hence the steady bloating of government we've seen throughout American history. So what do we do? Change the system to make sure we get good, qualified people who aren't arrogant weirdos to be our legislators?
Eh. That sounds hard, and I don't think it's really necessary. It's not like being a legislator is some super complex job we need the best of the best for. Most of the job is voting yes or no on bills as the representative's district wants (or Obama's favorite, voting "present," if yes or no is too hard). You could literally teach a dog to do it, and the dog would probably be more reliable and listen to us better.
But the Constitution says you have to be twenty-five to be a representative and thirty to be a senator, so it's pretty unlikely you're going to find dogs that old (what did the Founding Fathers have against dogs?). And since being a legislator is a pretty simple job, it's not like we need smart, upstanding citizens for it; we're comfortable with felons doing certain simple jobs, like making license plates and cleaning the sides of roads. The big difference is that we need people to watch over them and for them to understand their place in the scheme of things. The reason we have people like Rangel dodging tax laws and Bob Etheridge shaking kids who ask him questions is that they think they're above other people, when really the complete opposite is true.
The first thing we need to do, when someone becomes a legislator, is to give him a number, and that's how we know him. Instead of Representative John Smith, he's now Representative 24601. And instead of suits, representatives will wear nice assigned jumpsuits; they don't have to be bright orange, but they should allow us to easily identify these people who plan to spend all our money so we know to be careful around them. And we’ll treat them all just like known mafia members; we don't have the evidence to send them to prison just yet, but we'll keep the FBI constantly on their tail and looking because we're sure they're up to something.
And to help with that, they'll all wear ankle bracelets, so we'll know where they are at all times, and every place they go will be bugged so everyone will know what they're doing and who they're talking to and what they're saying. You want to spend trillions of dollars of other people's money, the tradeoff is that you lose all rights to privacy … though there will probably have to be some exceptions to that for classified briefings (but is it really wise to be giving these people important classified information?). And if we ever catch a legislator doing anything illegal, he automatically gets double the maximum sentence. They make the laws, so we should hit them even harder if they break them.
It's pretty simple: We treat all legislators like lying crooks, because they self-identified as such by running for office; normal people don't desire to spend other people's money. Right now, being a representative or a senator is a high-paying, prestigious job that any idiot could do (and some exceptional idiots have done it for years), but if there were a few more drawbacks to being a legislator, maybe the worst of them would stay away. And if they don’t, at least maybe they'll stay in line more if we let them know we consider them to be the worst of the worst and are keeping an eye on them. Then perhaps they'll listen to those of us who really are supposed to be in charge in this country, the ones who actually work for a living.
This is America: We don't let tyrants push us around; we push them around. It’s time we remember that.