How the Senate Becoming Functional Again Can Save the Nation and….
How to Fix the Senate In Three Easy Steps.
The US Senate is supposed to be the body where debate happens. Every STATE has two senators, so every state is on an equal footing. The Senators used to be appointed by the state legislatures and from the year they changed that in 1913 through a constitutional amendment to today the we could draw a straight line to the crazy money, politicking and the rise of caucus over constituents. But I’m not going to rehash that point, you can read about it here. Instead, I’m going to tell you how to fix the Senate in three easy steps.
First, Senators need to be beholden to their states first. In the case of Georgia, which is about 52% to 48%, Republican to Democrat, even though our Senators are Democrats (at this time), they should vote with the Republicans some of the time because they should be representing all their constituents. We are a center right state. If they vote 100% with a Democrats, they are leaving many Georgians out. When you vote with only your caucus you are saying the party is more important than the individuals you represent. In essence, you are saying, “We (Democrat or Republican leadership) know better what’s good for you than you do because we are so much smarter than you are.” You can’t make everyone happy, but there are issues that aren’t partisan. Balancing a budget shouldn’t be, but it is.
On Wednesday, the GOP lead House of Representatives passed a debt ceiling bill. It’s not everything Democrats in the Senate would want, but it’s a start. What should happen now is a debate on the floor of the Senate as soon as possible. This is important and has a deadline. The Senate needs to pass their version and if they are different, then you go to conference committee and you compromise.
Second, senators need to vote their conscience. They need to channel JFK on the Bay of Pigs and how to take responsibility when you make a mistake. Many elected officials want to be right all the time and the truth is, no one is. Leadership and intellectually honest communication are lacking across the board but especially in the among the class we have elected to represent us in the republic. They have a 6-year term to give them more independence and they should use it.
Third and finally, the party caucus should be a way to organize and support each other but it shouldn’t be a group that threatens you by withholding fundraising opportunities if you don’t tow the line. Party leaders like Schumer and McConnell should be leaders, not ATMs for campaigns. And, if you are representing a state that is close to 50/50, you might not be voting with the caucus every time.
So, to decide your vote, members of the U. S. Senate, it should consider constituents first, your conscience second and your caucus last. If you do that, there may be times caucus leadership and some people won’t want to get in the elevator with you at the Senate Dining Room, but you will be respected in your state and isn’t that what it is all about? There are specific duties of the U. S. Senate that are sacred and too often, you just act like the House of Representatives. I’ll write about how to fix that body, next week.