Dammit, I’ve got Congress duty

by lestro

There’s a series Rasmussen Polls out that really takes Congress – and especially the Democrats, who are trusted less every day to handle the affairs of the country – to task.

Generally speaking, Congress has a lower approval rating than the president, but since Barack Obama assumed office, this has been even more staggering.  President Obama hovers at an approval rating of about 65 percent while Congress languishes in the 20s and 30s.

Now, the language used in the questions is a bit loose and would seem to create a more wild response just by its nature, but there is no denying a few key facts:

Although an $800-billion-plus economic rescue plan has now passed both the House and Senate, the overwhelming majority of voters are not confident that Congress knows what it’s doing with regards to the economy. Fifty-eight percent (58%) agree, too, that “no matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse.”

and:

Two-thirds of the nation’s voters (69%) lack confidence that Congress knows what it is doing when it comes to addressing the country’s current economic problems. Just 29% are even somewhat confident in the legislators.

and:

When it comes to the nation’s economic issues, 67% of U.S. voters have more confidence in their own judgment than they do in the average member of Congress

but my absolute favorite bit of polling data is this:

Forty-four percent (44%) voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress, but 37% disagree. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

Forty-four percent think that a random selection of Americans could do a better job than our elected officials. Considering that every member of the House and a third of the Senate was elected in November, I wonder why voters didn’t do a goddamn thing about it then. But no matter. Why throw the bums out when it’s easier to just complain?

Then again, everyone hates Congress but loves their own rep, I guess…

But the poll does raise the interesting specter of picking representatives like jury duty.

Imagine, checking your mail one day and getting notification from the federal government that you have been selected to serve in Congress. People would be forced to meet at the courthouse for pool selection and try to get out of having to move to DC.

“Sorry, I am a doctor, I have to go back to work. I have a surgery to perform this afternoon.”

“You are dismissed. Next! What’s your excuse?”

“I’m a communist?”

“Not good enough.”

“Um, I hate black people?”

“Well, this is a Republican district anyway.”

“Dammit, I thought that would get it.”

“Tell you what, we’ll make you an alternate.”

Admittedly, not everyone could accept such a role. Some people may not be able to move across the country to serve for whatever reason, but others would have no choice.

It’s not a bad gig, really. Way better-paying than jury duty. US Reps and senators make $169,300 per year, plus great benefits and a lifetime package after you serve five years (and there would have to be a way for people drafted to the House to put their name in the running for re-selection). And they don’t even work a full year. Not to mention that if we did things this way instead of elections, members of the House could spend the majority of their time actually legislating instead of running for reelection.

We could build a Congressional dorm for all the drafted members that have to pack up and move to Washington to serve their country. Plus, all living together, maybe the infighting wouldn’t be as bad. It would be like the military; no matter what your issues are with the make up, religion or color of the guy next to you, when push comes to shove, you’ve got his back and he’s got yours.

and shit gets done.

This would also be a kind of throwback to the founding fathers, who though they would obviously be horrified by the loss of choosing representatives (though maybe not, considering the Constitution did not allow for the direct election of senators until 1913), one has to believe that they would be thrilled by the idea of citizens serving their country and then going back to their lives.

Back in the day, it was seen as a citizen’s duty to serve his country, not just some job you could grab and cling to forever.  The idea was that people would serve for a term or to and then go back to their lives. It was why Washington left after two terms, even though the people wanted him to stay for life – he’d done his part and wanted to go back to his life.

In my life, I am yet to be called for jury duty, though I admit I look forward to it. I like the idea of randomly being called in to rule as a “peer.” That’s pretty cool. Very power to the people.

But at the very least, a randomly selected sample of people serving in Congress could obviously do no worse than the group of nitwits we have in there now…

One Response to Dammit, I’ve got Congress duty

  1. David Beard says:

    This needs to happen. The Reserve & National Guard get called up to go to Iraq & Afghanistan. The jury duty style call up to Congress could work the same way. “Citizens” can make the same sacrifice and put their careers on hold for 2 years. It is past time for average Americans to take back our government from the lawyers who spend at least half their term trying to assure their re-election. This simple concept can save this country billions and put us back on the path the founding fathers envisioned.

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