I think we know now that we can keep ’em in, or vote ’em out, and still get the same result: our legislators do whatever they want once they’re in office…which is most assuredly whatever their highest bidders demand, no matter what was promised us on the campaign trail….right?
That’s because we’ve been approaching this from the wrong perspective: we’ve been “treating the symptom” rather than curing the disease.
And what is the disease that, if cured, will make our legislators much more beholdin’ to us, more connected to our reality vs. their insular world, and get them doing something of substance once in office?
I call it the “Royalty Syndrome.” If we eliminate it, we will see the kinds of action we so deserve from our elected officials.
The Royalty Syndrome is based on the following facts of public office in the U.S., particularly on the national level (but we see it on the State & Local levels too, just to a degree that diminishes the farther from Washington they are):
- Legislators are treated like…well…royalty…with all sorts of perks, assistants, deference, and special programs (like their own terrific health-care plan)
- With such treatment and expectations, they quickly and easily lose focus on their constituents, replaced by a sense of self-importance
- Once they’ve had a taste of such royal treatment, no way do they want to lose it…so they’ll do anything/everything to avoid that
Here’s the cure:
- Eliminate their perks, from special health-care plans to town cars & loads of assistants (they can have one…just like other managers in the real world)
- As a Legislator, your children must attend public school
- Pay them the equivalent of the average wage-earner’s salary in the US, which is $81,400 according to the Census Bureau (members of Congress currently make $174,000)
- They cannot travel by means other than public transportation (cabs in town, commercial airlines across country) and they must fly coach
- They must read all bills before voting on them; “I didn’t know what I was voting for” can be grounds for serious sanction (after all, this is the main part of their job)
- They must poll their constituents no less than 2X per year to get our input to all main issues before them for a vote.
There’s more we can add to the list, be these are great starters.
This does a number of things to hit the proverbial “reset” button back to true representation of us, not special interests:
- Eliminates those who run because they love power and prestige (which right now is almost everyone…I’ve always believed that anyone who wants the office is someone I wouldn’t want in it, because they desire it for the wrong reasons…)
- Replaces them with folks who don’t mind hard work, are not in it for self-aggrandizement, and will want to get in, get the job done, and get out
- Eliminates what is right now a very insular culture within the ranks of Legislators, fed and magnified by their “royal” treatment – when they are treated like the rest of us, they will act like “regular folks”
- Serves as a constant reminder that they are servants of the people, not Emirs
Only when our legislators are treated like the rest of us will they remember who we are, what their real purpose is, and what is needed by the majority of citizens.
So, my fellow Boomers, this is what you want to be pushing for, rather than staying with the same tired approach we’ve been using all of our adult lives, that simply hasn’t worked.
How’s that for change?