Beware of the Congressional Experience Myth

“Is experience in Congress required to be a good congressional representative?” This question is rooted in a common misconception perpetuated by the politicians themselves and all the lobbyists and staffers who feed from the trough of the existing political establishment. As we learned previously, the reality is that approximately 80% of a politician’s time is consumed by non-productive fundraising and election engineering activities, which have nothing to do with representing a congressperson’s constituents. The skills that politicians claim are required to be a “good representative” are based on their distorted perception of what it means to be a “representative.”

 

Statecraft vs. Craftiness. There’s a difference between statecraft and craftiness. Politicians are politically crafty; statesmen are thoughtful craftsmen of meaningful, sustainable, good-faith legislation. Most politicians ignore this distinction and confuse “representative” with “politician.” These are vastly different occupations, requiring fundamentally different skill sets, which have diametrically opposed roles in a functional democratic process.

 

Job Description of an Authentic Representative. The Greek inventors of Democracy never intended the democratic process to become a “political career” for their representatives. In ancient Athens, representatives from each community were chosen at random in a simple lottery. There were no elections and there were certainly no political parties that served to enthrone their representatives in public office for decades. In reality, the function of a democratically elected representative is straight forward and simply requires that an individual do the following:

 

  • Study and comprehend the authentic needs and concerns of a particular constituent group.
  • Ask meaningful, thoughtful questions to ensure accurate understanding of the group’s needs.
  • Communicate meaningful, thoughtful responses to the group about what role and capacity a federal government can and should have to accommodate the group’s needs.
  • Think deeply, methodically, and carefully about how the group’s needs can or should be accommodated by a national government with finite resources, limited constitutional authority, and sensitivity to the sociological constraints inherent in a nation of 50 culturally and philosophically distinct independent states.
  • Work in good faith with other members of Congress to achieve what is best for the national interest first, then consider whether it’s also possible to serve the narrow interests of the constituent group without undermining the broader needs of the nation.
  • Write, enact, and enforce rational and sustainable legislation that memorializes the previous five activities.
  • Candidly and continuously assess the intended and unintended consequences of laws previously enacted and objectively fix or abolish laws that don’t deliver the intended benefits to the nation.

 

Politicians Don’t Write Their Own Laws. Can you imagine any politician actually doing all seven of those basic and profoundly important activities today? Of course not. In fact, politicians never actually do their job themselves anymore. Virtually every page of every U.S. law created over the past 25-30 years has been written by special interest lobbyists, the politicians’ paid external consultants, and unelected congressional staffers. This is why all the politicians each have a staff that dwarfs the staff of most Fortune 100 CEOs.

 

Unelected Entities Write the Laws. A typical congressperson’s staff includes all of the following: Executive Secretary, Press Secretary, Executive Assistant, Legislative Director, Appointment Secretary, Administrative Assistant, Legislative Correspondent, Office Manager, Case Worker, and Receptionist. Additionally, each congressperson’s external staff usually includes several consultants and lobbyists. All these unelected private individuals, who often work for commercial corporations which are even more easily influenced by special interest groups than the politicians, write all the legislation for the politicians. In most cases the politicians don’t even pretend to read the thousands of pages of each law; their staffers simply tell them how to vote just before they perform a theatrical C-SPAN show of voting to enact laws which control the lives of over 320 million Americans.

 

Politicians Don’t Really Know What’s in the Laws. The next time you hear a politician say something like, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” now you know why. And now you know that the actual work of a congressperson is done by unknown, unelected private individuals and commercial lobbying firms who are not elected nor are they held accountable by the American people for implementing the laws that have created the Toxic Cloud today. And they all have a vested commercial interest in piling up more and more legislation taller than Mt. Everest because that’s what the politicians are paying them to produce. And of course the taxpayer-funded cost to maintain 535 separate legislation armies for each congressperson is enormous.

 

No “Legislative Skill” Required. As you can see, it doesn’t require any “legislative skill” to actually do the work that politicians in Congress actually do today. They are merely successful politicians, as measured by their number of re-election victories, but their political success has nothing to do with the skills required to be an effective representative of a state or country. Being a congressional representative does not require years of technical training like one would expect from a rocket scientist or genetic biologist or a judge, which must study for years to understand the specific facts and mechanics of their professions.

 

Any Thoughtful, Wise, Accomplished Citizen Can Serve in Congress.  An effective congressional representative simply needs to know how to do the seven activities noted above, be an office manager to stop hiring unelected commercial firms that manipulate the legislative process, write the damn laws themselves, and then be held accountable for the consequences of the laws they enact. That’s all a congressperson needs to do. And that’s why in the future any thoughtful, wise, professionally accomplished and inspired citizen will be able to serve their country on The Platform.



About Ferris Eanfar

Ferris Eanfar has over 20 years of experience in technical, financial, media, and government intelligence environments. He has written dozens of articles and several books in the field of International Political Economy, including Broken Capitalism: This Is How We Fix It, which provides unique insight into what is wrong with the global economy and how to fix it. To learn more about Ferris, please visit the About Ferris page.

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