Virtual Congress

Legend has it that Washington, D.C. is built on swampland.  While marshes are prevalent, the legend is false, but at the same time, it is figuratively true.  Swamps are messy places — notorious breeding grounds for all sorts of nasty stuff.   The stench, of a once clean government, has reached the epidemic stage within those 68 square miles along the Potomac.

And it’s enough to make us all sick. But, we can fix it.

We have had Video Teleconferencing technology for decades.  More recently it has become very easy.  Think of making a Video Call from your cellphone or using Skype.  That is a Video Teleconference.

Having our Representatives all gather in one place in order to do their business was absolutely necessary before the advent of all of the new technologies we have today.  Here are some of the problems that occur when our representatives leave to go to Washington DC:

  • Peer Shifting
    • When our elected representatives leave to go to Washington they are no longer around the people that elected them.  The set of peers that they have switches from the people that they are there to represent to other politicians and lobbyists.  Which then causes it to be much more likely that they will succumb to Peer Pressure.  Now, I’m not saying that a freshman member of congress is going to get bullied into doing drugs in the bathroom of the congressional gym, but they do get pressured, by their peers, to vote in certain ways.  Not being around they people they represent for long periods of time causes them to lose sight of what those people elected them to do. In some cases we have seen representatives vote in stark contrast to the majority will of their respective constituencies.  That act is a direct result of Peer Shifting.
  • Housing
    • Most of us think that when an elected official goes to D.C.  they live in a dorm, or get a cheap apartment, or buy a house.  The truth is that quite a few go and sleep in their offices on couches or on cots.  Some do get cheap apartments that they share with other members of congress, and some of the more wealthy do buy houses.  They are also required to maintain a home in their respective district.  The cost of housing is the main thing that gets brought up every time congress votes to raise their own pay.
  • Office Space
    • This one will will be covered more in depth in our Game Changing Idea “Reapportionment” but there is only enough space in the capitol building for 435 Members of the House of Representatives.  This breaks down to a ratio of around 1:730,000 Representatives to Americans.  The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929  fixed the number of Representatives at 435.   Representatives also must maintain at least one office in their home district.
  • Seemingly Short Session Times
    • In 2013 Congress was in session for 160 calendar days.  That doesn’t mean that they were on vacation for the other 205 days of the year.  The shear bulk of that time was spent “in district” and the US Tax Payer had to pick up the tab for the flights back and forth.  Only a few of the Representatives live close enough to D.C. to commute so this is a major expense.

The Virtual Congress gets rid of all of those problems and it is Constitutional so long as every member of congress travels to Washington D.C. once a year on January 3rd.  Section 2 of the 20th Amendment states “The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.” Imagine how much would be saved on travel cost alone if we, as taxpayers, only had to pay for 1 round trip flight per year for each member of the 435 members of the House.

***NOTE: THE ABOVE CITATION FROM THE 20th AMENDMENT IS DIRECT AND THE TEXT OF THE AMENDMENT IS WRITTEN AS “3d” NOT “3rd” OR “third”****
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We can have every Representative from the House dedicate 1 room in their district office with a set up that would allow them the ability to do everything -legislatively- that they are supposed to do in person currently.

With the Virtual Congress set up we can also have the ability for American Citizens to testify before congress without having to travel to Washington D.C. which also saves the tax payers money on travel costs.

Representatives in densely populated areas like southern California could set up a central office location , no more than 30 minutes from the border of their home district, where they would be able to share costs on office space for Virtual Congress use -saving the Tax Payers even more money.

Representatives would be able to hold caucus meetings, votes, debate, share files, literally everything they currently do, while at the same time have the ability to go to community events, local government meetings, and meet in person with their constituents more easily.

Even better than all of that would be public participation -which is falling very quickly in this country, as evidenced by the recent 18% voter turn out in California.  Though the general public can not make comments in committee hearings for the public record. The Virtual Congress system could be built with a general public portal where they would be able to view everything and make comments via a sidebar chat messaging window.  Perhaps an instant messaging system to members that would give instant feedback regarding the actions the congress is taking.

So to Recap :

  • Virtual Congress saves a ton of money for taxpayers.
  • Virtual Congress saves a ton of money for members of the house.
  • Virtual Congress limits Lobbyist access.
  • Virtual Congress keeps members of the house in touch with the citizens of their district.
  • Virtual Congress ends, or at the very least limits, peer shifting.
  • Virtual Congress gets the public more involved.

It is a WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN for everyone except lobbyists.


Virtual Congress

TO: THE PRESIDENT, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, et al.:

I call upon Congress and the President to enact the Virtual Congress for the reasons outline on the Game Changer PAC website at :
http://gamechangerpac.com/virtual-congress/

We, the People, deserve better access to our elected Representatives! The technologies available today make it more cost effective, and lend themselves to better representation, if our elected representatives remained in their home districts instead of leaving to go to Washington D.C.

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