I've recently decided that the 535 individuals that make up the Congress are collectively the most incompetent group of people on the planet. Most Americans agree
with me on this one. I bet I could pick 535 people off the street and find more competence in them as a collective group.
Note that I am not talking about individual incompetence. I believe there are many intelligent, competent members of congress, but as a group, they are useless.
I think a lot of it comes from being in Washington, D.C. Spending all your time with colleagues who are continually congratulating themselves on being Masters of their Universe and with aides who tell you exactly what you want to hear. I've never worked in D.C. so I am only imaging what sort of things must go on in order to cultivate such a group of incompetents.
So I was thinking that Congress should no longer meet in D.C. They should meet virtually, from their home offices in their home states. Instead of having lunches with lobbyists, they can have lunches with constituents everyday before they go to vote on bills. Yeah, the lobbyists will still have access to them, but at least they will have to fan out across the country to get access. The media will have to fan out as well, but it's much more likely that the local paper will be willing to write the story of the local congressman having lunch with the national lobbyist.
Apparently, I am not the first to come up with this idea. I Googled "Virtual Congress" and got this result: Virtual Congress’ Would Weaken Deliberative Process
. The Dirksen Congressional Center
thinks that this would keep congressmen and women from building the relationships necessary to pass bills.
"Congress could not and should not be at the cutting edge of technology application. The fact that technology can be used for various applications certainly doesn’t mean that it should. That corporate boards may permit meetings or voting via video conference, or that college students may take classes over the Internet, does not mean that these same technologies can be translated into use by Congress — a far different entity in structure, purpose and importance to the very foundation of our form of governance.As an organization, Congress functions in large part because of the regular and personal interactions among Members as they work to build consensus on issues ranging from procedural matters to the budget and appropriations legislation. This structure varies widely from the military and corporate arenas where action below is taken based on orders from above. In these environments technology is easily applied as an effective method of communication, information sharing, and command and control. In Congress, however, the loss of real, person-to-person interaction among Members, with all its involved emotions that cannot be reproduced via technology, no matter the clarity of the speakerphone or the resolution of the video display, would hit at the very heart of the institution and threaten its very ability to function as a body — the very opposite of what proponents of a “virtual Congress” would argue.
One recent procedural change in the House of Representatives provides an excellent example of the importance and value of personal relationships among Members. Over the past few sessions of Congress, the House has formalized the practice of “rolling votes,” where following debate on a piece of legislation, the actual vote on it is delayed. At a later time, a series of back-to-back votes are held on it and similarly “rolled” items.
Although on its face this practice would seem to weaken the legislative process by divorcing the vote on a bill from floor debate on the item, in reality it serves to provide Members with large amounts of time together on the floor to discuss matters, bargain on issues and build consensus. The practice has been widely praised by Members for providing the “quality time” needed to help develop personal relationships with their colleagues."
So according to these guys, congressmen need "quality time" with each other to get things done. I think they need quality time with their constituents. Building close relationships with each other only serves to draw them away from serving the interests of those who elected them.
Don't tell me that the technology cannot allow these guys to collaborate. Of course, we'd need much more tech savvy congressmen (maybe a litmus test, "Do you know what the "e" in "email" stands for"), but it seems that we could do it.
After all, didn't a U.S. Senator invent