Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Olympia Snow and The Absent Congress

A seat in the United States Senate is something many men and some women are willing to spend millions for. Of course, most of them are spending other people's money, but still, they want to be there.

Olympia Snow recently decided it was not a job worth having. 

Now, she is hawking her book about the dysfunction in Congress and she is associating with some organization which is supposed to be dedicated to improving the function of Congress.

Among her recommendations is Senators should actually stay in Washington and work with other Senators, rather than flying home Thursday morning and not returning until Tuesday. 

The advent of air travel has meant Congressmen and Senator can go back to their home states, and many argue this is desirable, so the elected can stay in close touch with those whom they are supposed to be representing.  But the problem with Congressmen and Senators who are so tightly joined to their home constituencies is these elected few do not spend enough time in Washington to get anything done in the city they were sent to do battle in.  When a Senator spends only 2 1/2 days in Washington, he or she cannot become part of a functioning governing machine in Washington, cannot get to know other representatives, cannot form working relationships, cannot get seduced by the comraderie of the governing class.

Some would argue this is a good thing, but having seen the other side of this coin, Mad Dog can say one reason for gridlock in Washington is the absence of the Representatives and Senators who are supposed to be doing the work of Washington. They are simply missing in action. 

It's all good and well to stay in close contact with them what's sent you thar, but if you don't engage in the organization and the process you can't very well help the government do much for the folks back home.

Of course, there are all those T Party, Rand Paul types who argue we should push things exactly in the direction of an absent government in Washington, D.C.

But if you are interested in effective, competent government, then you have to keep the elected representatives in their offices in Washington, or, at the very least, in the bars and restaurants and swimming pools of Washington, where they can wheel and deal and horse trade so government can actually accomplish something.

If it were up to Mad Dog, he would require all Senators and Congressmen remain in Washington, even (and especially) on weekends and not be allowed to leave the District of Columbia, until the Congress adjourns. 

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