In the halls of the Senate and Congress all elected individuals are not treated equally. Somehow this basic tenet of our nation’s existance does not apply to the elected leadership of this nation.
In fact, the system is so weighted that the two candidates that were vying for the Democratic nomination for President would not have been qualified to lead the Senate based upon these rules. I will also promise you that not one first term congressmen will have a shot at being Speaker of the House despite the dismal performance of the current Speaker. The most highly qualified individual will simply not get the job. And so, our nation falters.
Seniority is the rule of the day. It should also be the basis for a lawsuit. Those of us represented by less senior senators and congressmen do not have equal representation. They may propose a bill, but if they are not senior enough to be leading the committee it may never see the light of day. This process virtually guarantees that my senator does not have the same power as Ted Kennedy, for instance.
If we are unwilling to vote out the long serving incumbents with all the power bestowed by having been there for so long, then I would like to propose that all rules within the House and Senate that are based upon seniority be scrapped. This includes office locations, committee assignments, and whatever other perks are decided upon by term of service.
I would like to see the majority of states pass a Constitutional Amendment to this effect. Surely we can find enough states that are tired of having the senior members whom they cannot vote out of office stymie the proposals that their congressmen and senators make because they are newer to the game of national politics.
If the senators that represent me together cannot get a bill to the floor for a vote because the great senator from Massachusetts has blocked it, then I am certain that I do not have equal representation. And I should and as should you.
It should also be of concern that both bodies will give us Presidential candidates while at the same time telling us that those same candidates would not have a shot at leading either the House or Senate.
If we as a nation refuse to remove the majority of elected officials from office when they have an approval rating fo less than 20%, can we at least agree to remove the benefits from a system that rewards them the longer they can continue to win reelection? Should we all not have Equal Representation under the law?
Let me know what your thoughts are. Are you happy with the system? Do you like the power concentrated in the hands of those that were willing to seek office in the 1960’s and 1970’s and are still there?
Author’s Note: I published this originally on July 16,2008. Nothing has changed.