Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez…
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Ramirez Cartoon: Turning Your Back to Make a Point

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez……[more]

July 08, 2021 • 11:36 AM

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Time to Make Congress Telecommute? Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, September 04 2014
In recent years, there has been a cascade of members of Congress who have literally gone native, taking up residency in Washington D.C., and abandoning the states that elected them.

If you want a sign that America’s civic health is not yet in terminal decline, here you go: We still hate Congress.

According to the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average, disapproval of the legislative branch is at over 78 percent. Sure, there are plenty of Beltway chin-scratchers who will tell you that this is a function of Washington’s gridlock — and they’re probably at least partially right.

I prefer to look at those numbers through a happier prism. Congress is The Man. And Americans are still cussed enough to want to stick it to The Man. (Now if only we could shake our need to think of presidents as quasi-monarchs).

Not that I’m entirely without sympathy for members of the legislative branch. The truth of the matter is that if you do the job conscientiously you’re probably going to have a rough time of things come election season.

You may have voted against the “Bottle-Feeding Fluffy Bunny Rabbits Act of 2014” because it also contained a provision nationalizing the oil industry, but that nuance isn’t likely to show up in your opponent’s attack ads.

You may think that reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank is a flagrant example of crony capitalism — but try making that case to one of your donors (who will inevitably think of himself as a paragon of free-market principles) when he relies on the bank’s credit to fatten his bottom line.

These are the natural and inevitable drawbacks of serving in Congress; headaches that every member has to endure. Other election-season liabilities, however, are self-inflicted and utterly avoidable. A good example: not actually living in the state you’re supposed to represent.

In recent years, there has been a cascade of members of Congress who have literally gone native, taking up residency in Washington D.C., and abandoning the states that elected them.

Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his primary race in 2012 largely because of revelations that he hadn’t been a Hoosier State resident for years. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts faced a close call in his primary this year — and may yet be put under the gun in the general election — for similar reasons.

Most recently, it’s been revealed that Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu uses her parents’ home address in the Pelican State (she lives a bit larger in Washington, owning a $2.5 million home on Capitol Hill).

I know what you’re thinking: That ought to be an automatic disqualifier for office. In fact, by constitutional standards it already is.

Article I, Section III of the Constitution states that, “No person shall be a senator … who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.” Of course, there are plenty of legal technicalities by which candidates can meet the ‘inhabitant’ standard while still basically residing full-time in the nation’s capital. In those cases, the voters have to do what the law cannot.

The problem, however, runs deeper than just the handful of lawmakers so clueless that they think they can leave town and no one will notice. In recent years, there’s a growing sense that most members of Congress — regardless of which ZIP code their mail is delivered to — have become citizens of Washington, representing the conventional wisdom and moneyed interests of the nation’s capital to their constituents rather than vice versa.

Perhaps the solution to this problem goes deeper than just electing new members of Congress. Perhaps it requires changing the way the institution actually functions.

In the era of the Founding Fathers, there was no reasonable alternative to gathering legislators together in the capital to do the nation’s business. That’s not the case today. With modern technology, it’s conceivable that we could root representatives in their districts (and senators in their states), allowing them constant interaction with their constituents, casting their votes from a distance. Of course, members would still have to be in Washington for important debates and hearings, but you could discharge that business in just a few days every month.

Imagine the change in Congress if legislators actually had to live and work in the districts they represent. Imagine the cultural shift in Washington if lobbyists couldn’t engage in one-stop shopping under the Capitol Dome. Imagine the revolution in national politics that would result from the decentralization of power.

Such sweeping change may be impractical, but the underlying principle is essential. Americans are increasingly governed by a class of people who view us as alien at best and contemptible at worst. If we don’t find a way to tighten their leashes — to bring them back into communion with the communities they ostensibly represent — than we shouldn’t be surprised when they fail to represent our values in Washington.

Quiz Question   
Who was the first American in space?
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"As Democrats race toward squandering another $4.1 trillion -- perhaps with some Republican help -- we are being told over and over how the biggest stumbling block is figuring out how the new spending will be 'paid for.'There are technically two different bills being negotiated. One is a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that includes a wide range of liberal priorities. And the other is an infrastructure…[more]
 
 
—Philip Klein, Editor of National Review Online
— Philip Klein, Editor of National Review Online
 
Liberty Poll   

With regard to U.S. lawmaking, which one of the following is currently, in reality, the most powerful individual in the country?