Over the last two years, I have received dozens of chain emails, linked articles, and Facebook notes that all reference the notion of “Congressional Reform”. Variously referred to as the Congressional Reform Act of 20xx and the 28th Amendment, these ideas seem to catch the imagination of folks from all walks of life. Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, and unaffiliated angry citizens alike have sent these thoughts (mostly based on one very particular strain) to me as a non-partisan solution to many of our nation’s challenges.
The suggestions are indeed non-partisan (for the most part), but it isn’t immediately apparent that any of them would solve American problems. Critically, however, there is a bigger issue with the concept than whether it would help or not; most of the “problems” the amendment/bill would fix don’t exist. And so it goes with many populist issues; anger at problems derived from complex issues is directed at villains more easily discerned. Solutions that may require nuance, precision, and patience are replaced with sweeping pronouncements and “simple” fixes. This post will debunk some of the suggestions many of you have undoubtedly read. The Rational Middle can prove that the substance of the suggestions are, substantially, a load of hooey. That stated, the motivations of many who proposed and ascribed to this suggestions are important and pure. A functional Congress that honestly represents its constituents is a prerequisite for democracy.