Tuesday, September 21, 2021
HomeRecommendedNote to Tea Parties: Being a Citizen-Legislator Isn't Easy

Note to Tea Parties: Being a Citizen-Legislator Isn’t Easy

This is Part II in what will be a series in how citizens, tea party citizens especially, need to view the job of their newly elected congressmen.

I think of the new freshman in Congress differently than incumbents, and although they will run in 2012 as incumbents, I will continue to think of them as “newbies.” This is because, for the most part, they come to Congress under a new understanding, with a new Compact (a Covenant?) with the people who elected them. If they do well, the next class, and the next, will come to Congress under this same new Compact, and thus will a new Congress (and nation) be built.

That, and not beating back Obamacare, is The Plan, at least how I see it.

These newbies come as citizen-legislators, not professional politicians, and one of their biggest jobs while in office will be to stay that way; as hard as rocks, unbending as oaks, as mean as snakes, and as innocent as new driven snow. (Yeah, I know, why not throw in chaste, non-smoking and teetotalling too.)

My point in writing this is, after 2, 4, 6 years – will you, the citizen-voter, the tea party citizen, be able to tell the difference? Or will you just automatically write them off as inside-the Beltway crooks as you have the last several batches? I say this because sixty days in, quite frankly, a whole lot of you are beginning to sound like what you really want in Washington are whipping boys, and not citizen-legislators.

So, do you know how to take the true measure of these men and women? You too, are being tested.

Recently this new Compact was explained to me as “We the people sent them there with our Plan to repeal Obamacare.” I don’t entirely buy that, for quite frankly the country can survive Obamacare, but it cannot survive the underlying financial mess that Obamacare will help push over the cliff.  Philosophically and constitutionally, Obamacare is the greatest assault on individual freedom in American history, but if it went away tomorrow, we would still be twenty or so months away from total economic collapse.

So, this ‘Compact with the People’ has to be far more extensive than Obamacare. Our congressmen must be expected to both walk and chew bubble gum at the same time.

Newbie Congressional Baggage

In order to work, this new ‘Compact with the People’ must be defined by the newer kinds of “baggage” those new Congressmen bring to Washington.

I use this term because this is how all those Washington insiders (the old incumbents, and long-time staffers), see the newbies; insiders, who over the years have become a bit jaded about all this rah, rah, love of country stuff. To them it’s just a job…about which they long ago lost any sense of its real purpose.

So, let’s look at the “baggage” a newly elected citizen-congressman comes to Washington with. Our freshman might have run a successful business for years, had hundreds on his payroll, been secure in his financial affairs, balanced budgets, hired, fired, and been loved by his employees. Or he could have saved lives (a doctor, a retired cop). Still, on his first day in Congress, he doesn’t know anything of importance in their political world. All that stuff he does know, and no one in Washington doesn’t know, or doesn’t care about, is “baggage.”

Still this baggage is what it is all about. Newbie baggage consists of many elements having nothing to do with policy issues such as lower taxes, budget restraints, spending cuts, or repeal, repeal, repeal. Underlying all of these issues are standards of character; integrity, honor, fealty, strength, backbone, and yes, common sense…things long since departed from Washington and the halls of government, and things that will forever and a day separate these newbies from a goodly number of their own party, and the vast majority of the opposing party. (Note I did not include “loyalty” as there is nothing more loyal than a Democrat to his vices.) They must wear this around as a badge, like a beanie.

In the end, it is the presence of these bedrock traits, not the end of high taxes or Obamacare, that will save us as a people…while their continued absence will condemn us. Just know this.

So, this is a commentary on the “baggage” new congressmen must carry to Washington…and a reminder to Tea Parties, it is baggage you/we all wanted them to carry. You/we wanted them to be a tabula rosa, a blank slate. You/we wanted honesty and integrity more than knowing the ins and outs of Capitol Hill, or the “ways of politicians” as old-timey preachers used to  say. You/we wanted an ability to lead and to know when to follow. You/we also wanted a greater understanding of the private sector economy, of meeting payrolls and balancing books, instead of the funny-money accounting they do in government where the books never have to balance.

So cut them some slack as they they go about using this “baggage” in a commonsensical manner in order to right this ship of state listing heavily to port. For we certainly don’t want them to throw this baggage away. Instead you need to get a sense of the strong forces in Washington to strip them of it. As Moses Sands once said, it would be like me in room filled with a bevy of lovely ladies, all unclothed, and a bottle of Bushmills at the other end of the room. What to do? What to do? (He exaggerated, of course, still, that’s how I got my name.)

But first, they must all take each others’ measure. Common sense dictates this… and it doesn’t happen overnight.

So use some common sense about the very criteria you/we, the Tea Parties, established about the kind of people you/we wanted to send to Washington in order to fix this mess.

For what this baggage is also comprised of (we hope) is a new way of communicating with his constituents; no more of the lofty language of the Beltway, designed to obfuscate more then edify. No more of the secret code language of the club.

What this baggage also includes is a core set of principles…yes, lower taxes, smaller government. But above even those are the defining standards established by the Founders; a reverence for the Constitution and its design, an integrity and honesty of purpose about his mission, and his responsibilities to his constituents.

Which means you didn’t elect your congress-critter to simply call back and get your collective advice on every little vote of procedure or substance, especially since, only sixty days in, they already know that “we the people” are many voices, not one, and often discordant voices, some saying “gee” while others are saying “haw”.

The federal government is no different than a board of directors who have watched their company go from the greatest company in the world to one on the verge of bankruptcy and total collapse. Your congressman is but one of 435 members of the board. Brand new. Ask Ross Perot how easy it was to fix General Motors….especially since he didn’t play well with others either. He came, stayed and departed – an army of one. GM went on to further decline and eventual collapse.

One of the things that distinguishes the House from the Senate is the simple fact, in the House, you cannot be an army of one.

An army of one can neither lead, nor follow. Look at Ron Paul. It drove him mad….sort of.

Common sense tells me the first thing a “newbie” congressman does, with all that baggage, is to take the measure of the other 434 members, many of whom have been there for decades. Ours have only been in 60 days. But yes, votes do take place, even before they can do this. As a rule they will be partial to the R and biased against the D. I would. And what they will learn first is how strong they are, who they can rely on, and who they cannot. On this, they cannot rely on any instruction from you/we. This is all eyeball-to-eyeball stuff, trust me.

This is the part where you/we throw them into the pool and simply tell them to swim to the other side.  Sink or swim. So, again, cut them some slack, they’re still dog-paddling.

What we cannot afford to do, Tea Parties, is brow beat these men because they have not violated their own personal codes of good sense by listening to you-of-so-many-tongues (what’s the Shoshone name for this?)  instead of their own notions of good common sense.

Remember, these newbies are but the first of many. So, don’t screw the pooch. Make them afraid, but don’t make them hate you like a scolding fishmonger’s wife.

I can find no profit for our cause to go around damning men before they’ve actually earned it.

 

vassarbushmills
Citizen With Bark On

21 COMMENTS

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21 COMMENTS

  1. For me personally, the role model for the newbies in the house to follow is Mike Pence. He has been in DC for 10 years, and he never forgot why he went there. He never gave up his honor, dignity, convictions and principles. He wasn’t afraid to go against his party leadership in making bad votes for the good of the leaders. He was one of the few that voted against the most damning legislation that sent the Republicans back into the wilderness during the Bush years. He has conducted himself, and made speeches that reflect conservative values. As he says, he is a conservative and not in a bad mood about it, at a time when the conservatives were becoming dinosaurs in DC.

    From what I’ve read, there were a number that had already decided against voting in favor of the 3 week CR. After a closed door session, with Pence at the Microphone, that number grew. He said there is nothing wrong with picking a fight against the Liberals. I don’t believe that bipartisan or compromise is a part of his vocabulary. He is a leader, not a follower. That is why he is being personally singled out by some of the leadership and their staff for criticism.

    Hopefully the newbies have figured out who will lead them on the correct path in the House, and they will continue to follow his lead.

  2. There are multiple things happening here. You’re right, looking the person in the eye is best done face-to-face, hence the emphasis on Conservative Precinct Committeemen staring the candidates in the eyeball. Unfortunately, even we PCs cannot look ALL candidates in the eye; we must rely on the opinions of those whom we’ve come to trust.

    The Congressional caucus must be a group effort, one guy/gal out of 435 cannot individually carry the ball or the day. Any group or team implies a leader, whom they’ve chosen. The current leader claims to have a strategy, which he’s shared with those who elected him. If we have any trust in them whatsoever, then we must, until proven otherwise, trust their leader and the strategy they’ve chosen to follow.

    With any group outside the military, keeping that group together, whose individual members have varying opinions,is a miserably difficult job. Having each of those group members deal with those who elected them, only 60 days in, while trying to determine which colleagues to trust AND learn the ropes of their new position, does not cause me to envy them.

    I also agree that repeal of Obamacare is a paramount goal, but they’ve voted to repeal it as promised. Let’s face it, the Senate won’t go along, and the law’s namesake would rather give up golf than sign a repeal, so it isn’t going to happen before the next inauguration. And even if it somehow did happen, what would we then do, tell our new guys ‘Great job!’ and everyone go back to sleep again? The defunding option hasn’t expired yet, but it’s going to take one heck of a big club to get it through the Senate, much less signed into law.

    Now might be a fine time for us to press on as best we can, continue to chip away at starving the Beast, stay alert & unified, and watch (and help) as the Enemy continues to beclown himself.

  3. This is very timely Vassar, our newbies need some time to measure the lay of the land.
    This especially struck me:
    “what you really want in Washington are whipping boys”
    A member of the local TEA party just sent out a rant email claiming doom and gloom because we haven’t finished the job yet. “They’re all crooks” and “start a third party” was his ‘solution’.

    We have the recipe for success, but we need to give it time to bake.

    • This will be a continuing problem, Larry, for there has always been a big third party sentiment out there, and trust me, the Left wants to mine this for all the ore it can dig. Our only chance is to take over the GOP, not run against it (which we very quietly are doing anyway…shhh)..

  4. You have convinced me that yes, we should make sure that our tone is not over-the-top in our criticisms of our elected reps, and especially so in the case of the newbies. Yes, the term is for two years and so this is a work in progress. Good message VB.

  5. But VB, I think we may just have to disagree on two other issues you raise, which I don’t think applies to the question of the propriety of certain Reps to go along with the Leadership or not on the votes and issues we have discussed with regard to their strategies on ObamaCare repeal; defunding and the Pelosi rider; total spending cuts; and defunding of other federal programs, etc whether in a CR or not. And those are the issues of character and whether their main job is to repeal ObamaCare.

    I do look upon them as primarily yea/nay voters on laws and that character is not nearly as big a factor as with Chief Executives. They vote on written laws and don’t have the discretion like Execs.

    I send my Reps up their to vote right on the issues and to do what they promised in the campaign.

    • GC, i want my legislators to let me know what their principles are and to vote them. Their every vote doesn’t need my feedback, just vote your advertised principles. you can’t go wrong with principles. But it takes character to be confident enough to do that. Right?

    • No one ever said we disagreed on the substance of any thing, GC. I’d shut it down tomorrow if I could get enough people to go along with me. But I can’t yet, so we soldier on. I just want as many on the same when we started as when we finish.

  6. Vassar, you have become absolutely prolific since coming to UP! No more waiting a week between installments!

    I think I’ve commented before on the “Zorba” like way you see things, fresh and new every time. Or maybe that’s the way you make me see the things you write about. Either way its a gift I appreciate.

    Your talk of untried Leadership pulled me back from the nuclear wing of conservatism just a few days ago, now this. Great things to think about. I guess I would liken the freshmen’s position as that of a cherry buck-Sergeant. They’re held responsible for one hell of a load, more than your average citizen has to or should bear. They are responsible to some imposing figures, their Leadership in the GOP as well as their constituents (I’m pretty sure they still see us as imposing figures). I spent many an hour, often during sleepless nights, (roughly 148,269 hours) trying to perfect my methods of dealing with cherry buck-sergeants. You’re absolutely right. They need time to familiarize themselves with the terrain and with the unit. I am absolutely convinced that there must be a certain amount of trepidation in their lives. They should scurry about the halls of the Capital constantly afraid of who might see them and who will jump their sh*t about seeing them. At the same time, too much pressure will make them incapable, they need understanding and plenty of positive reinforcement. A little puff of smoke in the vicinity of the nether regions will boost their morale and carry them knee-deep into fights lesser creatures would balk at. Hold their feet to the fire but understand when they fail to meet expectations, then watch them grow into Leaders themselves. I hadn’t taken the time to think about it before. I should have. Thank you!

    • Coming from you, Sergeant Major, that is about as high a praise as a man can get. One CSM saved a man’s life and my reputation with a single sentence 36 years ago. Oh, and he was Irish, name of Mick Meehan. Thanks, Friend…and you have many, don’t you? Good to see you back.

  7. No, Forbes, but local radio around here doesn’t like him. He’s as conservative as being a ruling class Republican will allow, but has yet to have his “serving God and mammon” moment. It will come.

    • The ‘staying alert’ part I mentioned was directed specifically at that moment; we all have to notice, and then react, when that moment finally arrives. And the immediate reaction should either be an ear-splitting standing-o, or an equally disturbing rolled up newspaper…

  8. Absolutely awesome piece, VB.

    It’s easy to stand outside the room and caterwaul. But you can’t tell someone to eff off one day and come back the next and ask them for their support. Doesn’t work that way unless you have the numbers. And we don’t even have the numbers in our own caucus much less in the Senate or the Presidency.

    We didn’t get into this mess overnight and we won’t get out of it overnight. It took us 80 years to get here. Unfortunately, we don’t have 80 years to get out of it.

    But we do have more than 60 days.

  9. It’s multi-step process to change DC. Hopefully we can hold the line with the newly elected, and add to achieve a critical mass over the next few election cycles. That will empower those to act more boldly and change the balance of power. Until then, I’m sure its freakin’ hella intimidating being a newbie in DC.

    Changing culture is probably one of the most difficult things to do for an army of one or even several when coming in to a new organization.

    DC is a powerful machine that assimilates all kinds of inputs from many parts of the spectrum, and spits out a more homogeneous product. We always look at changing the inputs and raw materials but actually we need to focus on changing the machine and tweak the process to put out a better product.

    I have to believe there is tremendous pressure on the newly elected. It’s easy to be bold on the outside looking in, and much less so when you are ‘eyeball to eyeball’.

    I am very concerned that many on our side are pursuing circular firing squads instead of circling the wagons. The quest for purity for purity sake is a loser, close minded, and does not necessarily move the needle. It reminds me of the question, “would you rather be rich or be right?”.

    We need to sell the benefits of conservatism not out-conservative each other in a keepin’ up with the Jones’ fruitless game.

  1. For me personally, the role model for the newbies in the house to follow is Mike Pence. He has been in DC for 10 years, and he never forgot why he went there. He never gave up his honor, dignity, convictions and principles. He wasn’t afraid to go against his party leadership in making bad votes for the good of the leaders. He was one of the few that voted against the most damning legislation that sent the Republicans back into the wilderness during the Bush years. He has conducted himself, and made speeches that reflect conservative values. As he says, he is a conservative and not in a bad mood about it, at a time when the conservatives were becoming dinosaurs in DC.

    From what I’ve read, there were a number that had already decided against voting in favor of the 3 week CR. After a closed door session, with Pence at the Microphone, that number grew. He said there is nothing wrong with picking a fight against the Liberals. I don’t believe that bipartisan or compromise is a part of his vocabulary. He is a leader, not a follower. That is why he is being personally singled out by some of the leadership and their staff for criticism.

    Hopefully the newbies have figured out who will lead them on the correct path in the House, and they will continue to follow his lead.

  2. There are multiple things happening here. You’re right, looking the person in the eye is best done face-to-face, hence the emphasis on Conservative Precinct Committeemen staring the candidates in the eyeball. Unfortunately, even we PCs cannot look ALL candidates in the eye; we must rely on the opinions of those whom we’ve come to trust.

    The Congressional caucus must be a group effort, one guy/gal out of 435 cannot individually carry the ball or the day. Any group or team implies a leader, whom they’ve chosen. The current leader claims to have a strategy, which he’s shared with those who elected him. If we have any trust in them whatsoever, then we must, until proven otherwise, trust their leader and the strategy they’ve chosen to follow.

    With any group outside the military, keeping that group together, whose individual members have varying opinions,is a miserably difficult job. Having each of those group members deal with those who elected them, only 60 days in, while trying to determine which colleagues to trust AND learn the ropes of their new position, does not cause me to envy them.

    I also agree that repeal of Obamacare is a paramount goal, but they’ve voted to repeal it as promised. Let’s face it, the Senate won’t go along, and the law’s namesake would rather give up golf than sign a repeal, so it isn’t going to happen before the next inauguration. And even if it somehow did happen, what would we then do, tell our new guys ‘Great job!’ and everyone go back to sleep again? The defunding option hasn’t expired yet, but it’s going to take one heck of a big club to get it through the Senate, much less signed into law.

    Now might be a fine time for us to press on as best we can, continue to chip away at starving the Beast, stay alert & unified, and watch (and help) as the Enemy continues to beclown himself.

  3. This is very timely Vassar, our newbies need some time to measure the lay of the land.
    This especially struck me:
    “what you really want in Washington are whipping boys”
    A member of the local TEA party just sent out a rant email claiming doom and gloom because we haven’t finished the job yet. “They’re all crooks” and “start a third party” was his ‘solution’.

    We have the recipe for success, but we need to give it time to bake.

    • This will be a continuing problem, Larry, for there has always been a big third party sentiment out there, and trust me, the Left wants to mine this for all the ore it can dig. Our only chance is to take over the GOP, not run against it (which we very quietly are doing anyway…shhh)..

  4. You have convinced me that yes, we should make sure that our tone is not over-the-top in our criticisms of our elected reps, and especially so in the case of the newbies. Yes, the term is for two years and so this is a work in progress. Good message VB.

  5. But VB, I think we may just have to disagree on two other issues you raise, which I don’t think applies to the question of the propriety of certain Reps to go along with the Leadership or not on the votes and issues we have discussed with regard to their strategies on ObamaCare repeal; defunding and the Pelosi rider; total spending cuts; and defunding of other federal programs, etc whether in a CR or not. And those are the issues of character and whether their main job is to repeal ObamaCare.

    I do look upon them as primarily yea/nay voters on laws and that character is not nearly as big a factor as with Chief Executives. They vote on written laws and don’t have the discretion like Execs.

    I send my Reps up their to vote right on the issues and to do what they promised in the campaign.

    • GC, i want my legislators to let me know what their principles are and to vote them. Their every vote doesn’t need my feedback, just vote your advertised principles. you can’t go wrong with principles. But it takes character to be confident enough to do that. Right?

    • No one ever said we disagreed on the substance of any thing, GC. I’d shut it down tomorrow if I could get enough people to go along with me. But I can’t yet, so we soldier on. I just want as many on the same when we started as when we finish.

  6. Vassar, you have become absolutely prolific since coming to UP! No more waiting a week between installments!

    I think I’ve commented before on the “Zorba” like way you see things, fresh and new every time. Or maybe that’s the way you make me see the things you write about. Either way its a gift I appreciate.

    Your talk of untried Leadership pulled me back from the nuclear wing of conservatism just a few days ago, now this. Great things to think about. I guess I would liken the freshmen’s position as that of a cherry buck-Sergeant. They’re held responsible for one hell of a load, more than your average citizen has to or should bear. They are responsible to some imposing figures, their Leadership in the GOP as well as their constituents (I’m pretty sure they still see us as imposing figures). I spent many an hour, often during sleepless nights, (roughly 148,269 hours) trying to perfect my methods of dealing with cherry buck-sergeants. You’re absolutely right. They need time to familiarize themselves with the terrain and with the unit. I am absolutely convinced that there must be a certain amount of trepidation in their lives. They should scurry about the halls of the Capital constantly afraid of who might see them and who will jump their sh*t about seeing them. At the same time, too much pressure will make them incapable, they need understanding and plenty of positive reinforcement. A little puff of smoke in the vicinity of the nether regions will boost their morale and carry them knee-deep into fights lesser creatures would balk at. Hold their feet to the fire but understand when they fail to meet expectations, then watch them grow into Leaders themselves. I hadn’t taken the time to think about it before. I should have. Thank you!

    • Coming from you, Sergeant Major, that is about as high a praise as a man can get. One CSM saved a man’s life and my reputation with a single sentence 36 years ago. Oh, and he was Irish, name of Mick Meehan. Thanks, Friend…and you have many, don’t you? Good to see you back.

  7. No, Forbes, but local radio around here doesn’t like him. He’s as conservative as being a ruling class Republican will allow, but has yet to have his “serving God and mammon” moment. It will come.

    • The ‘staying alert’ part I mentioned was directed specifically at that moment; we all have to notice, and then react, when that moment finally arrives. And the immediate reaction should either be an ear-splitting standing-o, or an equally disturbing rolled up newspaper…

  8. Absolutely awesome piece, VB.

    It’s easy to stand outside the room and caterwaul. But you can’t tell someone to eff off one day and come back the next and ask them for their support. Doesn’t work that way unless you have the numbers. And we don’t even have the numbers in our own caucus much less in the Senate or the Presidency.

    We didn’t get into this mess overnight and we won’t get out of it overnight. It took us 80 years to get here. Unfortunately, we don’t have 80 years to get out of it.

    But we do have more than 60 days.

  9. It’s multi-step process to change DC. Hopefully we can hold the line with the newly elected, and add to achieve a critical mass over the next few election cycles. That will empower those to act more boldly and change the balance of power. Until then, I’m sure its freakin’ hella intimidating being a newbie in DC.

    Changing culture is probably one of the most difficult things to do for an army of one or even several when coming in to a new organization.

    DC is a powerful machine that assimilates all kinds of inputs from many parts of the spectrum, and spits out a more homogeneous product. We always look at changing the inputs and raw materials but actually we need to focus on changing the machine and tweak the process to put out a better product.

    I have to believe there is tremendous pressure on the newly elected. It’s easy to be bold on the outside looking in, and much less so when you are ‘eyeball to eyeball’.

    I am very concerned that many on our side are pursuing circular firing squads instead of circling the wagons. The quest for purity for purity sake is a loser, close minded, and does not necessarily move the needle. It reminds me of the question, “would you rather be rich or be right?”.

    We need to sell the benefits of conservatism not out-conservative each other in a keepin’ up with the Jones’ fruitless game.

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