It appears that everywhere I turn some pundit is offering words of wisdom to the newly anointed freshmen class of the 112th congress. Although that particular congressional session begins in January, hundreds of newly elected congressmen flooded the halls of Capitol Hill for an orientation session. The normal sermon was given by the speakers about being ethical, as congress does so well. Even Representative Eric Cantor provided his newest colleagues with Hit the Ground Running, a guide about being in congress.
Of course, I have never served in congress or worked in Washington (that could change someday), but from an outsider’s perspective there are some other rules the new freshman class should observe:
1. Tone down Your Rhetoric: For those in the Tea Party who pledged to “Take back America,” you probably will have to check that dream at the door. It is important to set realistic goals for yourself. Legislating is like a good exercise program: if your dream is too high, you will never achieve it. Give your constituents realistic expectations, if you do not want them showing up with pitchforks, ropes, and torches later.
2. Watch Your Lustful Eye: Some of you might be “family values” candidates, but Washington does offer tempting love interests. Remember, your interns are for office use only. Just ask Bill Clinton what happens when you “mess around” at the office. You may not think it will not happen to you, but anyone can give into temptation. If it does happen, for self preservation, leave the office while you are ahead and do not lie about it.
3. Be Civil: While all of you are working to make the world a better place, remember that having a gracious work environment is always preferable. The campaign season is over, work with the other side. If you constantly attack one another, you will be voted out quite quickly and the “tidal wave” election will look more like a wave pool election.
4. Pundits Are Not Your Leaders: As much influence as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Keith Olbermann believe they exert, it is not that much. You will cast controversial votes that your base and the commentators on each respective side will disagree about. Remember, the people are your boss, not the pundits. Listen to your constituents and the party leaders. Only they can decide the agenda. The commentators just argue about it. Do not take every little criticism they make personally, it is their job. Do not whine about being mocked by the mainstream media like Sarah Palin â€“ it is just annoying!
5. Don’t Be That Guy: Former Senator Jim Bunning from Kentucky was hated for holding up unemployment benefits last year. Do not be that guy who places a hold on a nomination for more “research” just because you oppose it. Just stand by your convictions, say you hate the nominee outright and vote against the person. Filibusters in the senate serve a useful purpose once in a while, but all the time is just overkill. Do not be the senator who holds up the legislative process because you believe you are saving America. Trust me; you look more like a villain than a hero.
My advice is probably not the kind one receives at congressional orientation. As a political observer, I believe these to be very important steps for a better legislative process. If you not follow all five of these rules, there will be consequences, starting with losing re-election.
To read more commentary by John Stang check out his blog called “The Independent Internationalist.” Â Also, check out his new radio show by the same name onÂ WRKE 100.3 FM on Wednesdays from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Â His opinions do not reflect those of the Brackety-Ack.