Poll after poll cite the publics low approval of Congress. And why would they feel any different. Numerous examples exist of our legislative officials NOT serving the American people. Look at the Health Care debacle. These spineless Dem’s (I lean left.. but these jokers in congress are flacid at best) could not even get a bill passed both houses with huge majorities. Congress has not passed any major legislation since the Civil rights act. Clearly it’s broken.

Call it influence of Lobbyist money, call it tacking to the center, call it corruption.. whatever. Essentially they play an endless game of campaigning in hopes of getting re-elected to continue the farce of they call governing.

Senators serve for 6 years (unlimited), House Members for 2 (unlimited). Term Limits could help, especially in the Senate.. cap to 2 6 year terms.  But Look at the House. The framers of our government wanted the House to be more receptive to the will of the people. Essentially they have to earn their job every 2 years or get kicked. IMHO this is why the House is usually more progressive, they HAVE to get stuff done.

Aside: Progressive is not a dirty word. Read 1 and 3. Don’t you want your government to change and adapt and look for new ideas to do something better?

Idea: Every Senate Seat faces an up or down vote in year 4 of the 6 year term. This is not an election vs. a competitor. This is a simple up or down vote by the states constituents on whether that Senator can EVEN run for re-election. They Lose, It’s an open seat in Year 6. They win an up or down vote.. Politics as normal.

For The House Do the same thing.. but do it in year 5 of consecutive terms. So if a Representative is elected and then re-elected 2x more.. in the middle of their 3rd term they face the up or down vote on whether they can run a 4th campaign.

Short of hard term limits, these Up or Down votes should continue infinitum. I don’t think “Career” and  politicians should exist in the same sentence.   It’s a public service. And when you stop serving the public, the public should get a say whether you keep your job.

Why do I think this is a good idea? Why not just vote for the other guy? Here is my reasoning. Running a campaign against someone is very different from running a campaign on why you should keep your job. What if every currently elected politician during a campaign could only talk about themselves and their accomplishments while in office.   Imagine if they were forbidden to mention the other candidates name. The public and they themselves would be forced to judge the man in the mirror. On his/her actions, on his ability to govern. All of a sudden this thing called accountability comes into the picture.

Every corporation/business has some sort of employee review procedure. You want a raise or want to keep your job… This decision is based on your merits. Don’t perform? You are out.  Whether you keep your job as nothing to do with how Bob from the next cubicle performs, or whether the applicant for your job is a liberal or conservative. You are accountable whether or not you keep your job.

When you can run a campaign based on pointing out the faults of your opponent, it becomes a game of “looking better then the other guy” when it should be a “look what I did in Washington”. An Up or Down vote forces this conversation to be had. Forces the politician to be judged on their merits of governing, not the skill of their campaign to find dirt on the other guy.

8 thoughts on “Congress should face an Up or Down vote”

  1. I don’t know that i totally agree with the up / down vote stuff but i totally agree that they are a waste of time right now. Term limits for senators would be great. I am getting so tired of NOTHING getting done.

    I remember how both McCain and Obama abstained from almost all of 2008 votes while they were campaigning which seems completely absurd to have a person representing our state not participate because they are hoping for bigger and better things.

    Also congress passed the patriot act which was a fairly major piece of reform.

    1. Patriot Act was Important.. but for all the wrong reasons. I consider the patriot act the single biggest afront on our civil liberties since.. forever. It was anything but patriotic.

  2. I know what you mean. That was kind of my point. We havent really had anything that worked towards a positive america in ages. Arizona is pushing to require the State Justices to be voted on every 4 years by the state legislature.

    Seems to me like a poor check and balance if they are allowed to decide if they don’t like how SC votes on issues that they pass through.

  3. A Congress of career politicians will never allow us to constitutionally term limit them by an amendment. But we can IMPOSE term limits on them by taking these steps in the coming Congressional elections (‘2010, 2012, 2014):

    1. Don’t reelect your Congressman or Senator.
    2. Always vote, but only for the strongest challenger ,regardless of party .
    3. If your incumbent runs unopposed, vote for his strongest challenger, regardless of party.

    If Congress has not passed a term limits bill by 2014, repeat this in 2016, 2018.

    Our only intelligent choice is to NEVER REELECT any of them!

    The only infallible, unstoppable, guaranteed way to get a truly new Congress, AND a new politics, is NEVER REELECT ANY INCUMBENT! DO IT EVERY ELECTION until term limits is ratified. In other words, don’t let anyone serve more than one term until Congress passes a term limits bill!


  4. Joshua,
    We are beginning to bring the pieces together to support the Congressional Accountability you seek, we all seek.
    The accountability occurs on election day.
    We have successfully chased two congress members out of office and we are ready to share with others the methodology to replicate this effort.

    Here is a link to a Key Survey result that consolidates constituents wishes around concrete facts illustrating how lame a given congress member is.

    435 congressional districts, perhaps you would like to exercise this effort on a MOC near you.
    Joshua , Abbie, Austin, Nelson, please contact me to participate.

    Others who agree with the comments above and are ready to do something about it, please feel free to contact me.

  5. I agree with you. Washington IS, indeed, broken. I have changed from being a devout conservative to being somewhat of a constitutionalist. I have read the Constitution and Declaration of Independence recently, and they still hold true today. And where they were lacking, they gave us the means to fix them (by amendment). These people, on both sides of the aisle, just do not seem to care about the America in which they live.

    Yes, a vote by the people where the incumbent runs based on being allowed to keep their position entirely on their own merits (or demerits) looks like an OUTSTANDING idea. And it may get the average American citizen to have a better understanding of the facts about who they elect, based on the same merits. Something that does not seem to be happening in this country now.

  6. @David, you completely missed the point of Josh’s post which is: “the current incentive structure is flawed.” It’s not a matter of getting more people to follow politics and vote more consistently- the mechanism used to determine who stays is fundamentally broken in that it encourages people to fight each other rather than to make progress and stand only on track record. No amount of educating voters, encouraging turnout on election day, clean elections programs, etc will fix this until the underlying reelection mechanism is fixed.

    good post Josh- 100% agree. I would like the see the up/down vote conducted a la Gladiator thumbs up / thumbs down style in a big arena with lions.

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