Fixing Congressional Dysfunction? Sign Me Up!

September 3rd, 2014 at 8:12 am

Rarely a day goes by wherein I don’t bemoan Congressional dysfunction, so the title of this oped by MD Rep John Delaney caught my eye: “The solution to fixing dysfunction in Congress.”

He touts three ideas: open primaries, redistricting reform (e.g., formulas for reducing gerrymandering), and making Election Day a federal holiday in hope of boosting turnout.

Nothing’s perfect, but those first two sound potentially helpful. Nothing wrong with #3, but much more is needed given recent attacks on voting rights.

Also, and again, less of a critique of a few-hundred word oped that can’t include everything, Delaney correctly argues that dysfunction partially a result of who we’re sending to Congress (and he has to try to work with them, so he’s got firsthand info on this part). But it’s also a result of the power of money once they get there. As I wrote the other day:

What’s really going on here is that our historically high wealth concentration is interacting with our historically low firewalls between money and politics…Those supporting the currently skewed distribution of wealth and power can buy not just the research results they want, but the policies.

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5 comments in reply to "Fixing Congressional Dysfunction? Sign Me Up!"

  1. Robert buttons says:

    We all know money corrupts politics. We also all “know” money is only corrupting the politicians we oppose. The politicians (and donors) we agree with are wholesome, upstanding chaps.

    There is only solution. Since Washington’s job is to sell favors, you must take the favors away. Weaken central control. No centralized power means no power to generate favors to sell.

  2. Mike Madigan says:

    I am not sure #1 helps. Jared you are right that money and the pursuit of that money is another huge issue. We do need a constitutional amendment that says corporations are not people and do not get to spend unlimited money. We also need publicly financed elections, where the candidate needs to raise a certain amount, so we do not fund everyone, and then gets a predetermined amount of money for the campaign.

  3. Some guy says:

    All of his ideas are solid.

    Gerrymandering, in particular, is a problem. I just wonder where the incentives for it are. It’s a rigged game, and the riggers want it that way, damn it!

    Lastly, what about voter registration. Why isn’t this made easier? Motor voter processes can enroll a lot a of people, but they won’t enroll all of the unregistered.

    Open primaries are a good idea also.

    I have yet to see a cogent argument against an Election Day holiday.
    Even if you don’t use the malicious term “voter suppression” (I’m not picturing a ‘Mr. Burns-like exclamation of “Excellent…” by some evil elite or anything), it simply makes voting a pain in the butt when the polls are open 7AM- 9PM on one day when regular workaday folks of all classes are commuting and getting stuck in traffic, working, working late and doing a last-minute project (often unpaid overtime for a lousy boss) caring for children, squeezing in errands, etc from from 7AM- 9PM. Most people collapse at the end of a long day on a workday, and however wonderful,long-term value, civic and virtuous…. trying to find some piece of mail with details on where your precinct is, getting back in the car, taking a bus, train, etc all the way to this place right after you collapse in exhaustion from your day….voting often just doesn’t fit in among the chaos of the American workday.

    Lastly, what about the National Popular Vote movement. They are about 60% there, at this point, I think. Some question the constitutionality of their movement, but, honestly, if the Constitution says that states can do what they damn please (I’m sure ‘damn please’ is not the actual wording) with their electoral votes, signing on to an agreement to pool them in a compact is what they are signing on to.

  4. Tom in MN says:

    Term limits, everyone gets one term. No need to raise money while in office, so you can’t be bought and don’t need to be an honest politician (one that stays bought). Have the congressional staffs provide the expertise, similar to how they do it in Canada I believe. This should turn off the revolving door that Cantor just went through, as people can just pause a career to serve for a term.

  5. DG says:

    Federal holiday? Why would that help? In Washington — state, that is — we have universal vote by mail. Take your time. Do it whenever you want. Have the voting rates changed dramatically? Nope.

    And neither has any “voter fraud.”