We must reform Congress

We must reform Congress

As a way to let voters know what I will fight to accomplish in Washington, I am making a series of promises to you of what I will do and what I won’t do as South Dakota’s lone congressman. I call it my Promises to South Dakota.
Here is my 1st Promise to South Dakota: I will represent the people, not the special interests.
I believe the fundamental question to be answered in this election is this: Does the government represent wealth? Or does it represent We the People? Is it Government of, by, and for the People? Or of, by, and for Wall Street? Are we two nations, or one nation in which everyone has a chance to succeed?
I want to be a part of restoring it to a government of, by, and for the People. So, I will also fight for these fundamental reforms:
1. Enacting a Congressional Term Limits Amendment;
2. Ending the deeply troubling Congressional Dues System, in which members pay dues to their parties to serve on committees of their choice;
3. Prohibiting members from raising money while Congress is in session;
4. Requiring Congress to live by the same insurance coverage as the average American, eliminating low cost Capitol Hill medical services that the rest of America lacks; and
5. Prohibiting a member of Congress from employment in firms that employ lobbyists for five years after leaving office.
Dusty has declined to tell the voters whether he intends to participate in the congressional dues system if he is elected. Importantly, he hasn’t rejected it, nor has he joined me in signing the term limit pledge that I signed a year ago. He first didn’t support Senate term limits at all. After I pointed that out he has taken the vague position of calling for them but not stating how many terms he believes should be enough. More wishy-washy political talk.
I will support a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on Congress, six years in the House and 12 in the Senate, to include any service prior to the amendment’s adoption, which would send home roughly half of all incumbents as their current terms end.
Here’s the problem: Congress has an approval rating that hovers between 10 and 15 percent, incumbents have re-election rates of over 90 percent. That suggests we have a hard time firing people who we think are doing a lousy job for us. A major reason for this is that corporate and special interests supply those they control with massive amounts of PAC and other money to keep them in office.
Today we have members of Congress from both parties who have served for 30, 40, and even 50 years there. This isn’t what the founding fathers had in mind. Instead, the Constitution’s framers envisioned public servants who would “lay down their plows for a season of service” and then return to their communities to again live as one of the governed.
The reality of human nature is that the longer people spend time in Washington the less responsive they tend to be to the people who sent them there. Worse yet, those in Congress now who have been there for such a long time are taking seats in Washington that could go to new faces and a new generation of public servants with fresh ideas. It’s time for change in Washington.
I want to end the thinking that suggests that only a select few Americans can serve in Congress, and that it is a place to go to advance a career rather than a place to serve.
If a political leader is truly a wonderful public servant and wants to continue to serve, it doesn’t hurt our nation to allow that individual to sit out an election cycle, watching from the bench for awhile to regain the people’s perspective, and then seek election without the benefit of incumbency.
Real change will come only from the outside.
South Dakota can send a ripple across America by electing a person who refuses to participate in the big money campaign process so we can begin to reform Congress. These are the first steps to restoring government of, by, and for the People. If we continue to venerate and elect the candidate who raises the largest war chest and conducts politics as usual, let’s stop decrying big money in politics.