The days when Congress sits regally in Washington and hands out the federal largess to grateful petitioners could soon be over. With the implementation of a fundamental reform agenda, Congress is in for a big surprise and dramatic culture shock: they will find that their former primary role of dispenser of the nation’s wealth will be replaced by hard work. They will be forced to do things that in the past they only paid lip service to, such as prioritizing federal spending within the limits of new budget rules. This will require strong discipline, free and open collegial debate, and transparency of their actions for public scrutiny.
This work ethic will be the new job definition for members of Congress. The old techniques of issuing patches to faulty legislation with quick subsidies and back-room deals will no longer be acceptable. One can’t help but wonder how many of the old guard will voluntarily walk away rather than face the hard job of making a real democracy work.
While the new job of Congress will indeed be hard work, we predict that we will have an ample supply of candidates that will be eager to serve in the new culture. And we predict that this culture will attract highly qualified candidates who are public-spirited, which is exactly what the founders hoped to see. Old-boy networks will be swept away and a new spirit will imbue Washington, rebuilding the civic institutions that atrophied as our republic was crumbling.
Yes, a new day is dawning! Or, more accurately, a new day is
in the wings waiting to be called on stage.
A new reform program can issue that call.