A message to congress: Do your jobs

Members of Congress, do your jobs! Stop your fundraising efforts for re-election. Stop your partisan grandstanding displays on Capitol Hill. Stop your emotionally charged outbursts of staged outrage and go back to your offices, committee rooms and your respective Houses, employ your staff to research the issues and get to work!

Earlier in this decade, my responsibility as a duly elected member of Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, and later as an elected officer of the National Association of Wheat Growers, included investing countless hours of reading related documents, research studies and policy directives; fulfilling my obligations of gathering all pertinent facts, to know everything there is to know about the issues regarding agricultural policy. The legal terminology is “due diligence.”

In explicit terms, it is defined as such a measure of prudence, activity or assiduity, as is properly to be expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a reasonable and prudent man under the particular circumstances; not measured by any absolute standard, but depending on the relative facts of the special case. (thelawdictionary.org)

In layman’s terms, due diligence does not require an exhaustive investigation, which never ends, but it does demand an investigative effort which reveals every currently available detail pertinent to the case.

New York Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, recently demanded of her colleagues in the House, “make the time, or quit.”

The full text of her comments were, “There is almost no excuse for a member of Congress to have not read the whistleblower report by now. It’s a few pages. This is literally our jobs. If you don’t have the commitment to be here and do the work, cut your fancy fundraisers and make the time, or quit.”

@AOC, which is her twitter handle, is by far the Democrat’s biggest lightning rod in this extremely partisan session of Congress. But she is light years ahead of her colleagues in fulfilling her sworn oath which obligates all duly elected members of the House and Senate in the governance of this nation. She understands the need for due diligence.

She and I have little in common, but I use her example to challenge my own Republican party to step up and stop this nonsense we have been witness to for the last months.

But this, we do have in common. If we expect our elected officials to govern effectively, we should also expect them to take the time to read the documents pertinent to the cases at hand. If anything, each member’s staff should have read them and given written and/or oral reports which could suffice. I’ve personally witnessed such report giving, even while on the run between meetings and votes on the floor.

A nine-page report is too much to read? If no time is available, perhaps it’s time to reorganize the calendar and reprioritize the day’s schedule. That, or resign.

Believe me, I get it that a Member’s time is precious. After all, they only arrive on the Hill early Tuesday morning and are available to meet constituents in their offices for a few hours before going off to committee meetings or important deadlines for a vote. By Thursday morning, they are wrapping up their week’s schedule and leaving for their home states, or traveling on junkets, or making calls to raise more funds for the next election campaign. They just don’t have the time to read a tiny document.

But we all know that’s not the reason why it is not read. It represents a political attack on one of their own. Rather than letting the wheels of justice to determine the guilt or innocence and going with that, they want to grind these wheels to a halt. And that violates everything about the rule of law in America. This should not be tolerated.

And that’s why this is one of the greatest threats to the democratic process, and to our Constitution.

Are you fed up with this impasse? You should be. What are you going to do about it?

First, if so motivated to act, do the work of an informed electorate. Read all there is to know about the issues. Broaden your intellectual horizons and move beyond

the Breitbart news feed, or Fox News, or Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones or Steve Bannon. Read all news feeds, including CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, etc.

Include NPR and Washington Week on PBS. Then, make up your own mind.

One can pretty much determine which news feed dominates a listener’s time, just by listening to an individual’s comments following a news cycle. It shows just who is dictating which perspective is more important than one’s own opinion.

Second, insist on accountability of your elected officials who represent your district.

Tell them you will not vote for them again unless you see bipartisan efforts made to break the impasse and actually work to get something positive done.

Third, make good on your threat for accountability. Back another candidate who is accountable.

If one is not available, encourage one who can run, or consider this an opportunity to serve your country. If that is not an option, even so, go to the polls and vote.

Written By
More from Paul Penner
Hard journey has led to blessings
Twins and twin towers. An unlikely combination, yet they are interconnected in...
Read More