2015-03-15 – What we need is an official Fake Congress.
When I first started thinking about this, I thought it might be a good idea to have a place to send people who like to jabber about politics but have no intention of governing. And I wasn’t thinking about an insane asylum. I was thinking about an honorable place where members could make important pronouncements and shun opponents and all sorts of good stuff. A Fake Congress.
But then I realized that we already have a Fake Congress. What we lack is a real one.
Congress has been in the business of putting itself out of the business of governing at least since the time of Franklin Roosevelt. (We even name eras after Presidents, not Congresses.)
Our Fake Congress members rail about government regulations, but on the rare occasion that they pass a law, it is routine for them to give regulatory power to the executive branch. Executives did not seize this power, it was freely given—by decades of Congresses that didn’t want to govern. Or were unable to.
Once in a while, Congress (as a debating society) gets up in arms about presidential excess in making war. One Congress even passed a War Powers Act in the wake of the Vietnam War to rein in the executive. But they were no more than nice words. No Congress has ever insisted that a President accede to Congressional war powers.
Nor do they advise the President on foreign affairs, as is their prerogative in many cases.
In recent years they’ve developed a strategy for passing unconstitutional laws, thus passing the buck for governing to the Supreme Court. Or they pass constitutional laws and then try to obstruct their implementation in court—rather than working things out.
Working things out is not why any politician goes to Washington. The debate is the thing.
Governing involves deciding. Presidents, apparently, are deciders. Fake Congresses are not.
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It may not be possible to rehabilitate a Fake Congress. Old habits are hard to break. So it might be time to amend create a Real Congress that could operate side by side with the Fake Congress.
But how would we pay for it? You ask.
Well, the Fake Congress is well funded by corporate money. It would scarcely notice if we would pull the federal money and divert those dollars to the Real Congress.
But wouldn’t corporate money go to the Real Congress? You ask.
They might and they might not. They seem to be pretty happy spending dollars on the debate. You know, the rules for the Real Congress could be different. The Real Congress might not allow bribery.
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A couple years ago, I wrote about some Constitutional reforms that I thought might be good for the country (An Even More Perfect Union). You might apply some of those ideas to the Real Congress I am now proposing.
The thing with the current Fake Congress, as they say in the business world, is that members have no performance “metrics” other than campaign fundraising and vote getting. They’ve given away their governing powers, so the whole thing is a show. Maybe if they could lose their jobs for failing on some sort of governing task, they might be a little more serious.