• William Bridgman

Fixing our government with a wrench, not a jackhammer

The anger and frustration with our government is intensifying.  All of us are feeling it, whether we hail from the left, the right or the center.  The sensible response is to analyze the cause of the anger and fix it.  Most will agree that the underlying cause is that for decades, our Congress has been fearlessly unresponsive to the will of the people.  Its members simply take no joint responsibility for the nation’s well-being.  They have been far too successful with fighting, obstructing, and blaming.  Last November, 95% of running incumbents were reelected, while Congress as a whole had an approval rating below 20%.  Since then Congress has done even less than usual to lower the level of dissatisfaction.

Again, the sensible response is to analyze the root cause — lack of incentive for members of Congress to collaborate and compromise across party lines in the nation’s interest.  The solution is a mechanism like the Public Check on Congress to hold them accountable for doing so. This can be done with a straightforward constitutional amendment — equivalent to a wrench to tighten up accountability.

Unfortunately, there are other efforts afoot trying to tell us that the solution is a constitutional convention of the kind held in 1787 which wrote the original constitution.  Under this scenario, a complete overhaul of the system would be on the table — the equivalent of a jackhammer.

We need to do something more than fix gerrymandering or installing term limits.  But we don’t need to risk tearing down the  system and starting over.  Let’s come up with a  solution that is commensurate with the  problem.  For a problem caused by poor incentives and lack of collective accountability, let’s take out our wrenches and tighten up Congress’s accountability to the people.  Let’s not be taken in by the wrecking crews with their jackhammers.