Check this out: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/us/politics/13congress.html?partner=rss&emc=rss With eight Senators planning to “kick the bucket” with the next election, some with 30 years of experience and several in charge of powerful committees, it is thrilling to hear them speak of their new empowerment. It’s as if now, finally, they can ignore the noisy fringes of their constituency and the high-access special interests and do the right thing for the country. It’s as if now that they no longer have to devote many hours a week on fundraising that they can focus on achieving badly needed legislation in the few months remaining while their legacies can still be written. There have been the cheap shot artists who have wondered what might already have been accomplished if they had only retired earlier; but I, for one, would be very pleased to see this group take the lead on installing long-term fixes for our national finances, tackling energy self-sufficiency, etc. They now have a chance to think exclusively about the national interest and act accordingly.
If I were to be wistful, it would not be about what if they had retired earlier. It would be what if we had the Public Check on Congress amendment in place so that all 535 members of the Senate and the House of Representatives felt empowered to work on their bucket list from the day they arrived in Congress. Think for a moment about a Congress that has fixed campaign financing so that it can tell the American people that its members don’t have to spend many hours a week raising funds from and making implicit commitments to special interests. Think about a Congress that can draw much more strength from the broad mainstream of the American public and reduce its dependency on or fear of an inflamed fringe from either the right or left.
We will all have a chance to ask our members of Congress to dream about such a day as they come to us for support during the upcoming election cycle. There are eight in the Senate whose dream of doing the country’s business with no strings attached has already begun. Eight down, 527 to go.