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Fixing DC Corruption: An Engineering Problem?

Single-serving reps... That's clever... How's that working out for you? Being clever...

Internet pundit and former “Virtual President” Bill Whittle recently explained an idea for fixing a persistent problem facing our representation in congress: incumbency.

Bill’s argument rests on the concept that congressional recidivists become assimilated by the swamp, ending up in the pockets of lobbyists and special interest groups determined to profit off their continued largess. The incumbents become disconnected from their constituents, and arrogant and increasingly unaccountable as their expanding war chest enables them to repeatedly win re-election and get rich through their graft.

In the next election cycle, whether you run as a Republican, Libertarian, or new Party (only evil scum identify as Democrats), your pitch to your potential voters should include the promise to serve only ONE term in that office. If you are exceptional, you can run for a different office in the next term, but by no means will you seek re-election to the same office. Here’s his pitch:

So, my immediate response is to lay out a few pros and cons and challenges:

Potential Pros and Cons of a single-serving rep:




Training Effective 1-Termers: Can the average citizen flourish in government? What’s the skill stack necessary to succeed? How long does it take to acquire these skills and is their sufficient ROI for such an investment of time and resources?

In other words, would anyone willing to serve in government be willing to serve without the lure of incumbency?

But is that the best solution to DC Swamp culture?

I have no doubt that Bill has thought long and hard about our current problems, and truly believes that single-serving reps are the best known cure for at least one problem: swamp rat. While it does reduce incumbency, is that the larger problem?

Since Bill used the Odyssey Siren analogy, allow me one:  I heard recently the opinion that America doesn’t need foreign embassies anymore. After all, they’re a waste of money and manpower. Defending embassies and consulates also involve considerable risks that sometimes lead to wars.

Foreign embassies were difficult

Embassies were essential when voyages took months, and leaders couldn’t safely go themselves. Today, world leaders can fly to meetings in hours, without compromising their essential availability in the slightest. Phones and video chats reduce that distance to nanoseconds, so even the laziest POTUS can reasonably putting all foreign ambassadors out of a job!

But hold on: even the most industrious POTUS hasn’t the time to keep abreast of all foreign matters. He needs boots on the ground, people he can trust, people who know the language and can muster intelligence, foster allies and contacts, and faithfully develop a comprehensive foreign policy for that country.

I mean, assuming we WANT such a policy and strategy related to that country. 

So, don’t kill the messenger, but all our technology has done is fired the messengers!  We  still need ambassadors and places to put them, right?

Following me so far?

Your community also needs ambassadors in Washington, called representatives (and Senators, which is a 19th Amendment problem for another day). Your rep is sent to congress and needs his own boots on the ground, and as we know, those boots are not made for walking. They don’t stand for re-election, but they are fed in the same troughs and subject to the same swamp vices as the reps they serve.

Can We Engineer the End of DC Swamp Culture?

So as Bill said, it seems like an engineering problem. What you need are representatives connected and accountable to their communities. And we want to drain the swamp. It may be that instead of limiting their time in Washington, we might want to consider:

Keeping them out of Washington altogether!

As mentioned, we have the technology so that reps don’t have to schlep.  They can stay in their state capitals and communicate on various streaming videos, like Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise. That keeps them close, away from the typical DC vices, and if they implement a rotating staff on the ground in DC, this would keep all of congress from catching swamp rat.

I know what you’re thinking:  there’s a law about reps being physically present in chambers for votes…

Well, COVID has already invalidated that policy

It doesn’t seem like a bridge too far to cross. Conversations among reps will be automatically recorded and close captioned. Aids could then send snippets to news agencies, or allow them to eavesdrop, enabling an even faster news flow.

Plus, the way data hops and is stored, it’s more likely that we will be able to determine who exactly wrote that damned 5,600-page Stimulus bill that costs us $1.4 trillion with a majority to leftist special interests and foreigners!

Then again, I’m no engineer.  I also like:

No Bills Larger Than 20 Pages

You have to admit, it’s a LOT harder to hide pork in a readable, short bill.  I might be willing to compromise and go to 30 pages. Reps can still make dinner plans with that size proposals.

Of course, these can also be done electronically, with up/down votes per section, so reps can provide immediate feedback. We might also require a list of EVERY contributor to the bill so we would know which special interest is trying to pick our pockets.

Yes, yes, you say, but there’s something about catching the breath and spittle from other reps as they rant and pontificate over proposals. They need to that, in person interaction.

I know. But congress also gave up on dueling and braining the opposition with a cane, so they can survive working-from-home too.

And (cough), we’ll have to renegotiate their salaries.

What other ideas might work?

Before the Obamacare debacle in 2012, Newt Gingrich talked about a variety of health plans that we could explore in the “50 laboratories of Democracy” across the US of A.  Those were happy times, and not so long ago. We could test things on a small scale, before vomiting up absurd, unread boondoggles that hike the national debt and leave us no better than before.

We can do better. God knows we deserve better than the government we have.

Alan Shaw

Very interesting ideas. I would add to the idea of a 20 page bill, that all bills be limited to a single subject & limited to 5 amendments which must address only the same subject.

I can also see the possibility of allowing two terms I stead of one, but the big thing will be ensuring staggered terms so we don't change the whole congress at once.

Make it so! Anyone else?

What do you think? Are an engineer with an idea to drain the swamp? Making DC less important is a task that won’t come from DC, so let me know if you have ideas.

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