TED Conversations

bristol ozturgut


This conversation is closed.

What actions can we take to return power and attention to our congress?

We live in a unitary state. An article published by NPR on three realistic alternatives to a single president fully illustrates that. I am extensively irritated that congress wasn't the natural response to the growing problem that the American people look to the president to affect change. As I recall, early congressmen decided to name the head of state "president" as the position was intended to merely preside over the going-ons of our nation's politics. Somehow (possibly inevitably) the president has become a modern-day king, responsible for almost everything our congress once was. So, my question now is: how do we return our attention to congress? How do we re-invest power in the legislative branch of the government?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 19 2013: True, there are plenty of executive orders, and it smacks of monarchy, but the money is still appropriated in congress. I happen to think it's an intentional device designed purposely to keep us from watching the goings on where the real power is, and it isn't really even congress. The power lies in the big money donors. If we're watching the president, and fighting among ourselves over ambiguous information (spin) we're not watching them. This is all part of a smoke and mirrors vaudeville act that allows our employees to work mostly in secret. Secrecy is not the cause of corruption, but is it's primary instrument. Ultimately the solution resides in the citizenry. We have to remove the secrecy. Regardless of party we have to tell candidates, including the president, that their employment will only be considered if you agree to the following conditions:

    You are not an employee of the party. You will work under the guidelines of a job description written by the electorate.

    Laws are written for the benefit society, and must be understood by that society. Legislation you write and introduce will be written in plain language and easily understood by the average of the population.

    Legislation will be introduced in the form of one bill, one issue, with no riders. If an issue can't stand on it's own merit it will not be hidden in or attached to another bill.

    You will be subject to the laws you vote to enact. You will not introduce or vote in the affirmative for legislation that excludes any elected employee from its influence.

    You will maintain a website that chronicles your activity. Each bill will be posted along with how you voted, and an opinion piece explaining why you voted as you did, as well as acknowledgment that you read and understood the bill. This will offer context and verifiable reference during your tenure and for each election cycle. After a reasonable viewing period this will be archived for easy viewing indefinitely.

    Secrecy's the problem
    • thumb
      Feb 19 2013: I am immediately unnerved by your resolute assumption that the government is one coherent body. The government is less "cogs within cogs" as it is a weathered, old table, re-varnished multiple times, adapted to fold like a modern card table, with two of its wobbly legs propped up on a book and a few deck of cards. Sure, there are people in politics who want to make big money. But there are far more people who are in politics because it is a day-in-day-out job that gives good benefits and retirement. Then there are the people who get into politics because they offer something constructive. In the end, I think we are all far more impressed by the mystery surrounding such big money, the shadow of it being far more intimidating than the actual thing.

      I also think your fast and hard rules sound great, but are completely unrealistic. So many things bank upon the margins of another issue. Don't get me wrong: I'd love it if bills could be limited by word or page count. As for the scrutiny, I'm right along with you there. However, our "cockroach model" media already watches and pressures politics in a way citizens don't naturally have the time for.

      That said, I definitely agree with the idea that the presidency should be hired rather than elected.

      In the end, I'm looking for something we can start doing tomorrow. The less we have to institute or change, the better. I'd like to work with that metaphorical table without adding yet another thing to it.
      • thumb
        Feb 20 2013: Let's work backwards through your comments. You'd like not to have to do add or anything. Me too, but if we do nothing, nothing changes, except the slow almost undetectable evolution that is taking place now. I happen not to prefer what I see happening, and so suggest a change. The change I'm suggesting requires that our employees do something, ie be accountable in a more transparent way.

        We all know that hard and fast rules will not always apply, they never do. What they do do is provide a common and understandable starting point. The requirement to write an explanation offers both the employee and us to understand why things are the way they are. I certainly did not suggest bills be written by word or page count, rather by issue count.

        The media. The media as you say has a cockroach mentality and is in fact all over our politicians. That fact by itself says absolutely nothing about what they're reporting. I contend that most of the media are editorializing, and not simply reporting. If that's true, what we are getting is their spin of politicians spin, or nearly worthless information.

        As for my my resolute assumption that the government is one coherent body, I would suggest that I've said exactly the opposite. We, the citizens are the single largest part of the body politic. We are out of sync with each other and with our employees who are out of sync with each other. If we were one coherent body there would be no need whatever for any of the things I've suggested.

        Our employees operate in secret a great deal of the time, and I think we should do what we can to mitigate that. I'd be all in for doing nothing if there were any demonstrable evidence that it might work.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.