Saturday, February 12, 2005

Contract Reprise

In 1994 the Republican party swept into a majority of both houses of the 104th US Congress. The Republican vote increased by nine million from 1990 to 1994 (while the Democratic vote declined by one million). One of the major tools used by the Republicans during their campaign was the “Contract with America.” The Contract read, in part:

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:

· FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
· SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
· THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
· FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
· FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
· SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
· SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
· EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

The Contract also promised an immediate vote on ten pieces of Republican/conservative legislation.

From a political point of view, the Contract appealed to voters for three reasons;

1) The Republicans adopted a contract instead of a platform. They bound themselves to do something (a contract) and not simply to be for something (a platform). [With regards to Newt Gingrich, Winning the Future, Regenry Publishing, 2005]

2) They provided an easy-to-grasp list of actions for voters to consider. This is a key concept. If Americans know nothing else, they know that politics in Washington is a complex, dirty game. The intricacies of committees, pork barrel spending, add-on legislation, presidential vetoes – these are beyond most voters. The Contract promised to cut through all the junk. Voters could look at the list and say definitively, “Yes, I’m for that.”

3) The Contract provided a scorecard to judge the new Congress. Either a congressman did what he said he was going to do, or he didn’t. Although not articulated, this concept of accountability is what most Americans want from their politicians. Elected officials dance around subjects, hoping to never take the consequences for their actions. (“I voted for it, before I voted against it.” – John Kerry, on the $87 billion Iraqi spending bill)

The 2004 campaign was one of the most bitter political seasons ever in American history. Although all of us were exhausted by the seemingly endless commercials and arguments, we don’t have time to relax; the next round of campaigning has already started. Politicians are positioning themselves on certain issues, and their bridesmaids-fighting-for-the-bouquet-like battle for camera time (“Oh, you’ve written a book?”) starts to look like Saturday night roller derby.

We as voters must insist that each candidate promise to do something specific and measurable, explained in easy to understand language. The media’s job is to help candidates who are willing to do this to get their message out, and to expose candidates who refuse to comply with this requirement.

If a candidate won’t do what voters ask during the campaign, why would he do what voters want once he’s in office?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK, Mr. Blog Dude, chew on this...

The Joke of "We the people"...

All the time we talk about voting, the right to vote, the power of the vote, etc... yet when a politician takes office, he or she does what they want, when they want.
If we disagree with a politician, then someone always says "well, vote them out of office". However, there is apparently a transparency when it comes to the "power of the people."
Is it just me, or does it seem really logical to get our heads together and solve the problem of social security, education, etc.? Don't we have enough smart people in the world who can put pen to paper and solve the economic problems? The answer is YES WE DO! However, the Political Machine that has been nurtured by our apathy has grown to a point where it has become more powerful than its creator. To logically solve the problems facing the world would take the power and money out of the pockets of those who are fed by the Machine.
There was a scene in "Dave" (the movie about an actor replacing the president [Kevin Kline?]) when he calls his CPA friend (Charles Grodin) to help find money for a work plan he has. The CPA heolps him do this, then he present6s the idea to his cabinet, then the country. He is seen as a buffoon by his opponents, but it comes off as totally logical.

We've seen the results of when society rises up to try to limit the power of the government - in China, Cuba, Russia, etc.
It seems like the things that supposedly make our country great are what continually feed the Machine. Yeah, we're free, but only if we stay out of the way and off the radar of those powerful people who run the country.
"We the people"... what a joke.

P.S.--I think you need to take this idea and run with it, bro! lol