Disqualifying Congress

Disqualifying Congress
By Brody Burns

“It’s a psychologically satisfying number, the top ten, the ten most wanted, the ten best dressed. So having the Ten Commandments was really a marketing decision. And to me, it’s clearly a bullshit list. It’s a political document artificially inflated to sell better. I’m going to show you how you can reduce the number of commandments and come up with a list that’s a little more workable and logical.”

-George Carlin

George Carlin is an inspiration. He is the greatest comedian in the history of mankind. His ability to apply logic to absurdly illogical topics is masterful.  His mastery even made logic and religion occasional bedfellows, an ever-dicey proposition. And if Carlin succeeded in applying it to religion, then I am determined to apply logic to another one of the most vexing forces in our society, Congress.  Like religion, applying logic to voter preferences is a dubious practice. For instance, voters in the 6th District in Texas have re-elected Rep. Joe Barton 14 times. Barton famously apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward. This apology came after President Obama demanded that BP pay for (wait for it) the BP Oil Spill. Kudos to you Barton, because to hold a multi-national corporation accountable for an accident of its own creation would be much too logical. Your aversion to logic is maddening. Good thing that disaster didn’t impact the constituents of Barton’s state. Oh wait, it did.

The sheer insanity of Barton and most of his Congressional cohort is nauseating. Thus, I am going to take Carlin’s cue and apply logic to Congress. This logic will come in the form of ten automatic disqualifiers which will remove members of Congress. Think of these disqualifiers as red flags. If you were on Match.com and a 40-year-old man who still lives at home with his mother with a large collection of gerbils tried to connect with you, it would set off red flags. The gerbils or the living at home thing would surely disqualify him from being a potential match.  Therefore, while I cannot shrink the overall size of the Congress in number, hopefully I can advocate cutting out the cancer through my list of ten automatic disqualifiers. What follows is my criterion for disqualification:

Tenure: Career politicians are the absolute worst of all humanity.

  • Rule: If you have been in Congress for 10+ years, then you are automatically disqualified from any further service.

Attendance: According to a Congressional Quarterly report released in 2012, only nine members of Congress didn’t miss a single roll call vote during the 112thCongress. That’s 9 of 535.

  • Rule: If your attendance record falls below 98%, then you are disqualified from any further service.
  • Giffords Exception: Serious Injury or illness will permit missing more votes.

Seeking Another Office: Too many members of Congress use their position in Congress as a platform to seek their next elected position. It is inconceivable that a member of Congress is able to adequately represent their constituency while campaigning for 2+ years for presidency.

  • Rule: If you are currently a member of Congress and seek election for another office, then you are automatically disqualified from further service.

Royal: Washington should not be a political dynasty.

  • Rule: If your father, mother, brother, or sister served in Congress, then you are automatically disqualified from ever serving.

K Street:Ideally each Congressman should spend their time working with constituents. To reach the amount of time a member of Congress should be allowed to spend with lobbyists, take the number of constituents in a Congressman’s district divided by 2 years (2 years equals a “meeting” of Congress). This will give you one share of time with Congressman. Thus a Congressman can only spend one share of time with each lobbyist who is also a resident in their district. If the lobbyist lives outside of their district, then the Congressmen is not permitted to spend time with that lobbyist.

  • Rule: If you spend more than one share of time with any lobbyist, donor, or K streeter, then you are automatically disqualified.

Civics: There are 100 civics questions on the naturalization test. Athletes are subject to random drug testing, and members of Congress should be randomly screened to assess their knowledge of US History and Government.

  • Rule: If you cannot pass the immigration civics test at 80% rate, then you are automatically disqualified from further service.

Residency: Certain members of Congress do not actually live in the district which they represent. This is pure absurdity.

  • Rule: If you do not reside in the district which you represent, then you are automatically disqualified from further service.

Lying: Statements made while in office are to be taken as “official” statements of that member.

  • Rule: If you lie, then you are automatically disqualified from further service. (Note: this includes both statements made on the campaign trail and while in office.)

The Carlin Commandment: If you violate Carlin’s Commandment of “Thou shalt keep your religion to thyself,” then you are automatically disqualified in my book.

  • Rule: If you cannot respect the many belief systems that populate our impressively large country by keeping your religion to yourself, then you are automatically disqualified from further service.

Exploitation: This will serve as the catch-all. Any Congressman who blatantly exploits the “plight of the American people” for a sound bite, but continues to act in a self-centered manner will be automatically disqualified. (Think of taking your Congressional Salary while you allow the Federal Government to be shutdown…despicable)

(Note: This list does not include what one would think are the very obvious infractions of committing a crime while in office, blatant corruption, sex scandals, etc.)

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