Reprise from last time... What should the Democrats do, in their first days?
Before considering bills and legislation - which may face obstinate vetoes - let’s talk about things that the U.S. House of Representatives could do, all alone, to set a new tone in America.
Here are some more suggestions:
2 -- Require more work days, actually deliberating the Peoples’ business.
All right, that one is a no-brainer, especially after by-far the laziest and most contemptible Congress in more than a century. Just being seen working hard could be an amazing contrast.
On the other hand, the next suggestion may need some chewing-on, before you see the benefits.
3 -- Enforce the “good parts” of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America.”
Wait! Don’t hang up! Please stop and think about it. What act could possibly embarrass the GOP more than pointing out half a dozen solemn promises in that “contract” that Republicans betrayed?
Moreover, it would say to the voters: “Hey, we remember your anger in 1994. We acknowledge why many of you wanted us out of power. In fact, here is proof that we listen.”
In case you have political amnesia, drop by http://www.davidbrin.com/contract.html and look over that old “contract” with the eyes of a winner, who can afford some generosity of spirit. And who may be willing to learn from a historically masterful stroke of political polemic. One that did have some “good parts” that millions of Americans found appealing then, and would find even more desirable now:
* requiring all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
* arranging for regular comprehensive audits of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
* limiting the terms of all committee chairs and party leadership posts;
* banning the casting of proxy votes in committee and law-writing by lobbyists;
* requiring committee meetings to be open to the public;
* guaranteeing an honest accounting of our Federal Budget.
Really, who could object to these particular items?
Indeed, what could be a more powerful blow to the GOP than to remind Americans of these broken promises... and then for Democrats to fulfill them at long last?
And yet, in a strange win-win scenario, this would also strike a note of bi-partisanship! By saying “we will listen to good ideas, wherever they come from.”
Finally, it would perfectly set the stage for rejecting the worst parts of the “contract”. The parts that (alas) did get fulfilled by the GOP.
Portions that only served the interests of a secretive elite.
I was going to wait till tomorrow, to present reform suggestion #4. But I am too eager, so let’s get to it right away.
4 -- Restore Independent Advisory Agencies For Science, Technology and other areas of skilled analysis, to counsel Congress without bias or dogma-driven pressure. Ensure that technical reports may not be rewritten by politicians, changing their meaning at the last minute.
No neoconservative crime was more devastatingly dishonest and hypocritical, than for them to have deliberately dissolved Congress’s own technological and scientific staff, while crying out for “more study” before acting on problems like Global Climate Change. This simple act of restoration will show the striking contrast between an era ruled by dogmatic fanatics and return of the “reality-based community” ... the rebirth of basic common sense.
Worth noting: Although presidential vetoes might stymie re-establishment of the full gamut of scientific support, a Democratic Congress can accomplish at least some of this entirely on its own! Each chamber may define its own housekeeping budget and expand its technology/science staffing.
Imagine the note that this would ring, across the land and the entire world. The America of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein is back in business.
Next time: dealing with Pork Wallow Central... K Street.