Another Perspective

Home Sweet Home

Why must members of Congress congregate in Washington, D.C. to conduct the nation's business?

By 4.13.10

At the time of the first Continental Congress in 1774, there wasn't any telephone, telegraph, regular mail, Internet service or other modern method of communication, which we take for granted today. At that time Members of Congress had to congregate to communicate. There was no alternative.

Fast forward to today. We take for granted telephones (land and cell), email, televised conference calls, Internet, and a variety of other means of communicating without congregating. Times have changed. Today there is no longer a need to congregate thousands of miles from home.

Businesses have televised conference calls regularly around the nation and around the world. This is the modern way of doing business.

Why can't Congress do the same? Why must Members of Congress congregate in Washington, D.C. to conduct the nation's business?

The answer is there is no reason at all other than habit or the convenience of lobbyists. It's time Congress break this expensive, time consuming, corrupting habit. It's time and finally technologically feasible for Congress people to conduct the nation's business from their home districts.

Today Americans give Congress an approval rating under 20%, the worst in memory. That's right, four out of five Americans disapprove of Congress.

Congress needs to make America proud of its elected officials again. Otherwise Congress will become even more dysfunctional than it is now.

Transparency by working from home Congressional districts can improve the people's opinion of Congress by forcing Representatives and Senators to live with their constituents rather than their lobbyists. The Congress person working out of a district office will give constituents more accessibility, more transparency and a sense that people real count again.

Modern technology permits everything from all members of Congress participating in a joint session from remote locations across the country, to simply two members engaged in a conversation, and if desired in living color. Members can spend valuable time with constituents rather than traveling back and forth between the District and Washington, D.C. Staying at home also saves taxpayer funds for the cost of what will become unnecessary trips.

If members of Congress lived and worked among the people they purport to serve instead of among the people they actually serve -- the bureaucrats, national media and lobbyists in and around the District of Columbia -- the entire sense and sensibility of the Congress would shift back into proper alignment with the interests of the people! Remoteness from lobbyists with Congressional representatives in home districts across the country would also mean better government more rooted in grassroots values in the end.

It's time to bring each member of Congress home where they belong.


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About the Author

James Stockdale served as the Executive Director of the 1980 California Reagan campaign, and as Executive Assistant to Governor Reagan in 1979-1980.