Fixing Congress’ Worst Problem

And you’ve likely never even heard about it!

Do you know what is the worst fixable problem Congress has?

I’m willing to bet that I can tell you: 1) what Congress’ most substantial problem is, and 2) have it be something they’ve never heard of (!), and 3) have a simple, low-cost, elegant solution for it!!! I suspect that some people would be willing to bet against me…

Since we are daily deluged with political news from hundreds of sources, is it possible that alert citizens are unaware of Congress’ worst fixable problem? I say YES, so I could make good money if I went around making such a bet.

To appreciate the scope of the #1 Congressional problem, we need to understand how our representatives make decisions. In other words: how do they decide on what to vote for or against; how do they decide which issues to champion; how do they decide which laws to propose; how do they decide exactly what to say in any proposed law they put into the hopper; etc., etc. Do you know the answer (singular)? Consider:

Fact One: there are dozens of major issues (from election integrity to energy) clamoring for our representative’s attention every day.

Fact Two: in our current society, almost every one of these issues is moderately or extremely complicated.

Fact Three: it is very rare that any member of Congress is a bonafide expert in even one of the dozens of issues on their plate.

Fact Four: each member of Congress is solicited every day by lobbyists giving them advice as to what to say or do about one or more of these numerous complex issues.

What does a competent, conscientious representative do?

Nearly 100% of the time, the answer is to rely on their aides. Every Congress person has a staff of aides, plus a Chief of Staff, etc. Let’s take energy as an example, as most members of Congress have an “Energy” aide. We’ll call this their E-aide.

It is the E-aide’s first responsibility to be a buffer between lobbyists (also the public), and the member of Congress. For example, when an appointment is made to discuss wind energy legislation, in most cases it is the E-aide who meets with the lobbyist, citizen, etc. (An exception might be for a repeat visit, a VIP, a major donor, etc. Then the member might also be at the meeting. Note that the E-aide is usually still very involved.)

Typically, the member of Congress heavily relies on the E-aide’s advice regarding the support that should be given to what is requested, the priority of it, how to specifically handle it, who else to communicate with, etc., etc. After that, the E-aide stays actively involved with what happens (e.g., drafting a proposed law).

OK, you’re probably thinking, I knew most of that. It makes sense that members of Congress extensively rely on their staff. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and certainly, we would not expect any member of Congress to be an expert on more than one or two topics. So what’s the substantial problem?

The answer is: the aides. Who are these sources of knowledge, and how do they work? I’ll keep it simple, only outlining some of the major problems with the current system.

Problem #1: Most of the aides are energetic youths in their early twenties — i.e. wet behind the ears. Few of them have any real-world experiences. For example, a typical E-aide has rarely visited a nuclear plant, hydroelectric facility, or wind project. If they did, it was a show-and-tell, not for serious discussions.

Problem #2: It’s extremely rare that an aide will have an advanced degree (e.g., a PhD) in their assigned field. (People with PhDs can make more money elsewhere.)

Problem #3: Much of what aides know about their assigned field, actually comes from what they are told by lobbyists — people they see daily. Clearly, listening to lobbyists is NOT a successful way to have a comprehensive and objective understanding of anything.

Problem #4: These youths are products of some of the worst education our country has ever provided anyone. For example, these energetic young people have been heavily propagandized with Left-wing ideology. Worse, they have not been taught how to think critically — but instead have been schooled to defer to authority [e.g., re Climate], to follow (without questioning) what is politically correct [e.g., re COVID], etc., etc.

Problem #5: The troublesome relationship between lobbyists and aides gets worse. All the players know that the aide is in a temporary job. (For example, their employment would end if their boss did not get re-elected.) Some lobbyists leverage this uncertainly to their advantage, by letting the aide know that if things work out well now, a cushy gig awaits them when they are looking for a job in the future.

Problem #6: The net result of the above is that we now have a lobbyists-run legislative system. Citizens are often perplexed as to why their elected representatives rarely act in the public’s best interest — that’s the answer. The public interest and the lobbyist’s client interest are almost never the same.

Some of the times when we see a Republican Congressional member take RINO actions, it is due to the fact that lobbyists and their own aide have consciously (or otherwise) ganged up against our representative — and our elected member does not have the expertise to be able to counter their undue influence.

I could go on here, but I promised to keep it simple. Hopefully, you can see that we have a horrifically troubling political system that is putting many of the key decisions about our country and its future in the hands of inexperienced, miseducated, Left-indoctrinated aides, very susceptible to being inappropriately influenced by powerful and sophisticated lobbyists.

So the second part of the bet was that you’ve never heard about this profound weakness of our legislative system. If you think otherwise, show me where it has been adequately discussed and publicized…

Part 3 of my bet was that I could come up with a reasonable solution. Here it is…

Members of Congress should have most of their key aides be seniors and/or retired people. Amazingly, each and every substantial deficiency of the young people aide system is fixed by switching to a mature people system. Consider (using the same numbering as above) the major benefits of making this one easy change:

Benefit #1: Senior aides have a wide variety of real-world, life experiences.

Benefit #2: A good number of the senior aides will have an advanced degree in a relevant field or equivalent job experience.

Benefit #3: The senior aide’s knowledge would have come from their job history, so they would not need to listen to salespeople (lobbyists).

Benefit #4: Their education was during a time when the US education system was much less politicized, and actually taught us things like the Scientific Method!

Benefit #5: These retirees would not be looking for a future job, so would not be susceptible to this inappropriate lobbyist enticement.

Benefit #6: The net result of the prior five items, is that lobbyist influence over our legislative process would be substantially reduced. That would mean that citizen-oriented laws would become the norm, rather than the exception: a Very Big Deal!

In other words, EVERY one of the serious problems inherent in the current system would be fixed by this simple change.

Would it be hard to find such people? I doubt it. Seniors are not only some of the most patriotic citizens, but many of them are very keen on having their experiences put to good use.

So do I win the bet?

If you think otherwise, please tell me where I’m wrong.

If we agree, then why isn’t this happening, today?

PS — It should be obvious that the same reasoning applies to State Legislator aides. State Legislators have fewer aides than their Federal counterparts do, so it makes even more sense for them to have their smaller staffs predominantly mature citizens.

©2024. John Droz, Jr. All rights reserved.

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