Reform Congress Now!
The Civilist Papers is the joint project of Mike Shanahan and me, Doug Hughes. We endorse an approach targeting the 2016 election with the objective of a bi-partisan majority in the US House of Representatives who have endorsed reform without evasion – reform defined by the greater movement – not the candidates.
Because only a third of the Senate is up for election every two years, we can’t establish a majority in the Senate in 2016, but a strong showing in Senate races plus a majority of reformists in the House is the biblical ‘handwriting on the wall’. “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.” (Google it, dude.) To survive, the old guard of the Senate must support reform.
Civilism is Mike’s idea, but we distilled a broad concept down to four specific principles built around the goal of energizing democracy. We came to our conclusions BEFORE we heard about Rootstrikers and the greater movement. Without getting into details, which are on the site, those principles of The Civilist Papers are:
1) Free and Fair Elections (without fraud)
2) Shutting down the control of Special Interests and Lobbyists
3) End profiteering by Congress while in office
4) Campaign Finance Reform
Our strategy is to bird-dog 435 House races and 34 Senate races. Yes, we’re talking about a 50-state strategy and less than 2 years to do it. If the incumbent won’t fully endorse reform, we’re going to recruit someone who can win and WILL fully endorse. In a lot of cases, this will mean a candidate of the same party as the incumbent and an upset in the primary election. This is NOT a partisan Trojan horse conspiracy to undermine either party.
In my opinion, there are plenty of potential candidates for Congress, democrats and republicans who wouldn’t touch national politics with a ten-foot pole. These are candidates with education and proven management skills who know how dirty politics in Washington is. They would enter the cesspool of congress if they saw any way they could remedy the institutional corruption – but there’s no way just one one honest man or woman can change the way things are done. Again, this is opinion, but I think a strong electoral movement, meaning LOTS of voters demanding honesty now, can create a climate where these proven leaders will volunteer to real public service in a historic moment.
“All politics is local.” – Tip O’Neil. Candidates, no matter how well tied they are to the party machine, campaign fund sources, and big-name endorsements have to convince the voter at HOME – that he or she is the best candidate. I think there’s an alliance between the national media and supporters of the corrupt status quo. That’s the political parties and the ad money they command and the election industry which runs 365 days per year. The NATIONAL media is sold out.
Local media, particularly newspapers, are struggling to survive. ‘Local’ and ‘newspaper’ are used together so often, they’re almost synonymous – and remember- ‘All politics is local’. US House of Representatives are elected by voters from small districts. Newspapers and local TV haven’t been cut into the big bucks and they have enormous clout in elections to Congress. If the local print media is to survive, they can (potentially) get a huge shot in circulation and ad revenue by becoming more relevant on issues the national media won’t and can’t cover.
Out of fairness, I used the phrase ‘can’t cover’ when I said national news ‘can’t cover’ local scandals. National media can’t devote any detail to the implicit corruption of 435 US House races when almost every member will support corruption while pretending opposition. A local paper can do a detailed story about the recent retired members of Congress cashing in – the national media can’t justify even a minute of national exposure to an obscure retired congressman.
Fact – Nearly half of the retired members of Congress are employed as lobbyists at multi-million dollar salaries. How did they vote in Congress and who are the clients who now reward them so lavishly. With HUNDREDS of retired congressmen participating in legalized, institutionalized bribery, it will take the LOCAL, especially newspaper media, to expose each case and discuss the reforms to address it.
Eventually, Congress has to go home and pound the pavement locally before the next election. No candidate who stonewalls the local media should be allowed to be elected on ads funded by anonymous sources. Make candidates do interviews and ask the question on corruption and don’t let them give a weasel-worded endorsement of generic ‘reform’ without a commitment to REAL reform – as defined by the general movement. The national media has captured the money, but the local press still has the power.
I believe that a coordinated non-partisan effort can overcome the Party Machine Candidate. There are more independent voters than there are either democrats or republicans. That statistic means even a well-funded incumbent is vulnerable if he won’t endorse real reform and his opponent will. An Independent voter has announced that he has rejected the Party Machine by checking the ‘Independent’ box. My opinion is – that HUGE chunk of Independent voters leans heavily for reform and has for many elections – they’ve never had the option to exercise their power.
We carved out a unique niche when we invented The Civilist Papers. The approach of Wolf PAC includes a 50-state strategy to persuade 34 state legislatures to call for an Article V Convention to pass a Constitutional Amendment. But they aren’t promoting an electoral strategy. RepresentUS has a legislative solution, but no plan to build a 50-state organization to recruit and elect a majority in Congress.
Both groups are correct in what they are doing, and we at The Civilst Papers won’t hamper their efforts at all. This isn’t by design. We came up with our ideas before we knew of theirs. I’ve studied both groups and I’m convinced we all three have to pursue our separate strategies concurrently for any of us to succeed. I’m not suggesting we can’t or shouldn’t coordinate when circumstances warrant it but most of the time, let each group do their own thing.
I see this as my life’s work. Assuming the flight doesn’t kill me, and I don’t get a lengthy prison term. I’m 61 now, but the median age of members of the Senate is 70. Over the next decade or so, I want to be a part of reform, first at the national level, and hopefully later in state campaigns to replicate enforceable standards that require elected officials have no option except to represent the people to the best of their ability. Close the opportunities for politicians to sell us out – legally – for their own personal gain.
That won’t make for neat, clean politics. We still won’t agree on a LOT of issues. Democracy is loud, messy, contentious and imperfect. Democracy is founded on the idea that nobody will always get everything they want. I can live with that if what I get is the best effort of representatives of the people doing their level-best to work for the benefit of the people.