Americans are not pleased with Congress. A staggering 74 percent of the public disapproves of how lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are doing their jobs, judging by a recent Gallup poll.
What is the solution? One Republican congressman believes the answer is to take the representatives out of Washington.
Rep. Steve Pearce is a 13-year veteran of Congress, and his New Mexico constituents are nearly 2,000 miles from the nation’s capital. Pearce has proposed a unique approach to Washington’s problems: Let representatives work remotely, while spending significantly more time in the districts they represent.
“The biggest complaint that exists about Washington is that they seem to be out of touch with the voters,” Pearce explained to the Washington Examiner. “And so the ultimate impact would be to put us extremely back in touch with our voters.”
The representative has proposed House Resolution 298, which formally asks the House Administration Committee to find ways to work in a “virtual setting,” without having to sit in Washington.
His idea is not particularly far-fetched. Businesses both large and small routinely use teleconferencing and virtual meeting software to keep remote employees organized, no matter where they’re located.
Ubiquitous 4G data access and so-called “cloud” applications allow an executive in New York to collaborate with employees in California — or increasingly, the other side of the world — in real time.
“All kinds of corporate boards meet like this already, and it saves time, saves energy,” explained Pearce. His vision includes setting up screens at local auditoriums throughout the country and allowing citizens to watch Congress debate issues remotely. Representatives would be among their people, not hiding in plush Washington offices.
“If you were facing your constituents rather than the lobbyists, there would be a great accountability that would change the pulse of this place within hours,” Pearce continued. “The lobbyists should have to work harder to see us, and our constituents should have to work easier. We’ve got it upside down.”
The forward-thinking representative told the Washington Examiner that he thinks other congressmen will resist the idea, but that the American people will ultimately demand it.
“I think it’s something that the people will eventually insist on,” he said. “They get pretty furious when they elect folks and they come up here (to Washington), and you know, pretty soon they’re part of the system up here.”
If James Madison were alive today, he wouldn’t write the Constitution with a quill pen; he might draft it on a tablet and share it online. The principles of the United States government are timeless, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use modern technology to bring power back to the people.
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