Back in the mid-1980s I had the opportunity to spend a brief amount of time with Speaker Newt Gingrich.
He offered some fascinating advice to those of us present (A group of only fifteen people nationwide that were training to become congressional campaign managers). He said in essences “The responsibility of a Congressman is not to explain Washington to the voters, but rather to represent the voters to Washington DC.”
The implications of that comment are very insightful when thought about. It demonstrates why Newt Gingrich is never really out of the race for president. But that is another story.
I receive, on a regular basis, communications from federally elected officials. I also am friends with some on various social networking sites on the internet. I monitor the Senate and House members that represent the State of Utah, as well as few others.
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is on Facebook and frequently makes posts that convey to the conservative wing of the Republican Party (about 65% of the total membership) his relentless efforts to carry the conservative message to Washington. This effort may be intensified by the fact that for years he was more moderate, like Senator Bennett who was unceremoniously ousted by the right wing even before the primary in 2010. Senator Hatch needs to earn back their trust.
To many of the Senator’s posts I have responded to him stating that he simply isn’t getting what the people are looking for. He is still a regulationalist at heart. That means his answer to every challenge, problem or difficulty is resolved with yet another regulation being imposed.
Before I continue I must make a confession. In my mind Senator Orrin hatch is the most moral man in the US Senate. On a personal level I trust him beyond any other US Senator. In terms of personal character, in my mind, he overshadows all the rest. That means a great deal to me, yet not my vote.
Today on Facebook Senator Hatch, speaking of the Yuan Bill, posted this “Before the Senate moves forward, it’s imperative that Congress have a full understanding of the Administration’s views on this legislation.” At first blush this looks absolutely reasonable. At any level, having a clear understanding of the issues, is a reasonable thing to do. However…
At the second consideration, where wisdom joins with first impressions, this says something quite different. When the President has made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of ever working in a cooperative manner with the Congress I genuinely question the logic of waiting for it to be forthcoming on this issue.
Secondly, what Senator Hatch is doing is subtly proposing is that there is a means to “compromise.” Compromise to accomplish part of a goal can sometimes work for the greater good. Unfortunately with Congress, particularly the Senate, compromise has not been to move toward a greater good but rather toward a greater personal satisfaction among individuals dependent upon popularity, to remain popular.
In short, given Senator Hatch’s, and the entire senate’s reputation, his comment translated for accuracy should read “We need to know where the president is at so we can accommodate his wishes with our future popularity.” That sounds harsh, but it appears to be the means by which the senate works.
In the original Constitutional Convention the delegate were firm and pounded home views with force and resolve. Yet, in the end the Constitution was adopted because the compromise was for a better nation, not better poll ratings. Today’s Congress should be no less.
I return to the advice of Speaker Gingrich. These men are not sent to Washington to later come home and explain Washington to their voters. They are to represent the people and then be “Statesmen” capable of wise decisions rather than popular assent.