By s.i. wells
Let me try to understand something. A Congressman (includes Congresswoman) is elected by the voting public to serve for two years in the House of Representatives and is paid from the public coffers. Being a Congressman is really a contract job for a fixed duration with a biennial job review by the employer, i.e., the voters. During the Congressman’s term in Washington, doing whatever Congressman do, there are progress reports to the employer generated by the Congressman (think Public Relations and Fundraising palaver), except there are no rules, standards or procedures that must be adhered to crafting these reports. So, if I have this correct, a Congressman is a hired agent of the voters, sent out of town with no regular supervision, given lots of money to hire staff, and empowered to do the business of America–whatever that may be. Of course, a Congressman is not actually mandated to do anything, and those things he might do are often not made public because there is no mandatory oversight of his daily schedule. Unless the Congressman breaches some ethics rule of the Congress (think Fox and Hen House here) or runs afoul of the gendarmes at which time lots of stuff becomes public.
Now let me try to understand where we are in the history of communication. With the internet, there exists a mechanism that can be utilized to instantly broadcast things to others, and the data for this broadcast can be updated constantly. We expect things like sports scores to be current and headlines to be up-to-date. Well, how about, a Congressman’s daily schedule. A novel idea…letting the people who are the “employers” know whom their Congressman is meeting with, lunching with, dining with and taking money from. Am I dreaming that we could live in an open society where the employee— Congressman—might be required to publish his daily activities like meetings with lobbyists, fundraisers or special interest groups and be required to update daily the tally of funds he is collecting for his next campaign and for whom? OMG! What a world it could be.
Can you just imagine a place where a public servant actually is held accountable by the very transparency of his daily actions? If a constituency were to learn that their Congressman was meeting with certain big corporations or big banks and a corollary calculation instantly appeared next to the entry of that meeting showing that the Congressman received tens of thousands of dollars from those in attendance, how enlightening would that be? We have the skills, we have the technology, but do we have the will?
And that is just the point. Either force your Congressman to disclose, post, list and fess up “in real time” to his actions while he is out of town doing your work or forever live in the darkness controlled by backroom deals and sleazy horse-trading. Maybe it is time to use the horsepower of the internet to illuminate the hour-by-hour activities of those who chose to serve the public and let them face the music and the voters in real time, not just in prime time. In order to have a government that represents the people and not the special interests, sunshine is the best remedy. If a Congressman is to commit crimes of hubris and ego, then make him do it in broad daylight for the world to see. The era of secrecy of schedule and of failure to correlate contributions received with that schedule must come to an end if we really want a government that responds to the people. If your Congressman objects, then fire him in November and find someone who understands.