A couple days ago, Bluegrass Policy Blog posted about Senator Rand Paul’s intention “to force members to read bills” in Congress. This seems almost so basic that we shouldn’t have to talk about it. I admire the effort but in the end I’m saddened by the fact that we are in a situation where it is common knowledge that our elected representatives often vote without reading the legislation.
Here are some potential solutions:
- Obviously the first idea is to pass legislation requiring all members of Congress to read the legislation before voting. But come on, how could that be enforced? I read very little of what I was supposed to in high school and still got A’s most of the time.
- I’m willing to bet that most legislators check Facebook and Twitter frequently. From what I’ve seen, Twitter has become a necessary tool in promoting one’s political agenda and campaigning for office. Since this is a familiar format, perhaps a change could be made to Congressional rules that would require all legislation to fit within 140 characters?
- I was in New York a while back and was astounded when I saw a poster at a barbershop with cartoon images of 30 different haircut styles, each one numbered. Ordering a haircut by number – that’s completely foreign to me but it may just work for Congress.
Our elected representatives have one job to do. Regardless of what they claim to have on their plate, in reality there is one responsibility that is paramount above all others – to execute the will of the people. Not get re-elected. Not position themselves for post congressional careers. Not network. Not fund raising.
So while the past election cycles saw issues such as whether someone voted for “Obamacare” or where they stand on the “Bush Tax Cuts” take prominence, perhaps we’ll hear this question in future election cycles:
“Candidate X, how many bills that you voted on during your previous term did you read in completion?”