Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post: “I’ve always believed that if you never get off the offence, you never have to worry about playing defense and I would suspect that you will see the House move on offense, listening to the will of the American people.“ Congressman John Boehner
Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 11/16/2010 -- The last election brought the greatest gains in the U. S. House of Representatives midterm elections for Republicans since 1938 and positioned Republican Congressman John Boehner to be the next Speaker of the House. We watched news interviews with Boehner and selected this quote as characteristic of his political leadership style.
Reflecting back, we were surprised when our “Franklin Press” column on “The Donald Trump Law of Negotiating” was featured on “Silobreaker,” a global news network that selects news based on global relevance. What, we wondered, was of interest to folks so far from Franklin? “Silobreaker ” plots a pictorial network on featured columns connecting key words like “Western Carolina,” “Public Policy,” “Trump Tower,” “zoning” and “New York City.” The word “zoning” earned a straight line in (must be controversial everywhere) and we came away thinking that with all this connectivity, we would soon see Trump walking the Little Tennessee Greenway.
We are calling this column’s quote the “John Boehner Principle of Politics.” It may offer insight into the last election where the Republicans and the Tea Party grabbed the offensive and did not let up. The Democrats fell into defensive mode (with a few exceptions) and could not take the offense back. The Republicans were in touch with the American electorate and convinced most Independents to vote their way. The Boehner Principle prevailed and the offense won a precedent setting midterm election.
In a recent Gallup survey of 16 American institutions the U.S. Congress has the lowest rating. Only 11% gave Congress a very favorable rating.
Last week Gordon’s classes at Western Carolina University addressed the topic from, “Taking Sides,” by John McKenna and Stanley Feingold; “Is Congress a Broken Branch?” Students were given an exercise asking for their recommendations.
Many students felt members of Congress should spend more time on the job. They had taken note that many members of Congress flew in to Washington, D. C. on late Tuesday and out on Thursday. Students did not approve of an “absentee” Congress and wanted more “on the job” legislating.
The passing of “earmarks,” students felt, needed to end. Earmarks involve funding attached to legislation for projects in a Congressman’s home district. They do not involve normal debate and the public do not know about them in advance. They can involve hundreds of millions of dollars and are frequently unrelated to the legislation. Earmarks are a way of rewarding allies and interest groups and help the Congress person become reelected. While some earmark projects are needed, they increase deficits and the absence of debate and public knowledge is disturbing.
Another priority of students was for political parties to work together and end the worst deadlock in recent decades. Term limits were mentioned and some students wanted younger Congressional members.
We wanted to point out that Congress has the power to appoint Advisory Commissions. Congress does not use this power effectively. Appointing a group of experts and concerned citizens would be helpful in keeping Congress more in touch with American citizens. Small business leaders along with corporate leaders advising on job creation would be a step in the right direction.
Article 1 of the Constitution gives legislative powers to the U. S. Congress. The powers of Congress were set forth first in our Constitution because our founders were creating a government, as statesman Daniel Webster indicated, “made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.” Congress has become a body with hidden earmarks, absentee members and ethical problems. It has not used appointment powers well and has lost connectivity to the American public.
A Congress working for and with the people, a Congress applying an active offense to job creation, balanced budget, technological advancement and problem solving would get the public involved and excited. It would give voters hope.
Congress needs to transform its connectivity to the American public.
Dr. Gordon Mercer would like to dedicate this column to past and present students, who have been very involved in solving national problems. He is proud of their many accomplishments.
Gordon Mercer is international president of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor of political science at Western Carolina University (WCU). He holds a Ph.D. degree in organizational development, founded the Public Policy Institute at WCU in 1999, and has held the position of associate dean of research and graduate studies at the university. Marcia Mercer is a writer and published columnist with the Franklin Press. Go to http://9955.hostednr.com to get to our Global Digital Post Press Room. Views expressed in this column are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations.