Welcome to 2013 where we just witnessed the 113th Congress being sworn in. There’s a lot to celebrate. There are 95 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshmen ready to change the world for the better. For the first time ever, we’ll have 20 women serving in the Senate. The House of Representatives is the most diverse we seen in a long time. Perhaps the best thing about the swearing-in of the 113th Congress is that it marks the end of the 112th Congress.
Only 220 bills became law during the 112th Congress (2011-2012) making it the most unproductive since 1948. By sake of comparison, 258 bills became law during the first year of the 111th Congressional session. The approval rating for the 112th Congress was 9% at one point. BP during their oil spill and Paris Hilton have rated higher. This Congress was also considered the most polarized in recent memory. Legislation that typically enjoyed bipartisan support were either voted down or not voted on at all.
In the spirit of a new year and new beginnings, it’s time to give Congress a political makeover. If I controlled Congress, here are some of the things I would do.
1. On day one, every member will be given a dictionary and asked to learn the word compromise. Learn to spell it. Learn to pronounce it. Learn to appreciate it. There will be a quiz.
2. We will bring back that time-honored tradition of socializing with people you don’t know. After 6 pm, you’re not a Democrat or Republican. You’re a person who will carry on a conversation with another person. That person may not agree with many of your views, but you both love Modern Family. Bonding over your commonalities is much more productive in the legislative process.
3. Don’t be a douche. We have way more important matters than whether your staffer put sweet and low instead of stevia in your coffee this morning. In fact, any member with a douchey reputation will have that tagline under their name when featured on CSPAN. Douches will also have their committee assignments taken away. I don’t want someone like you determining whether my program should be fully funded.
4. The colors red and blue will be banned from the House and Senate floors. I love these colors and hate that they are now considered representatives of a person’s political views. What’s wrong with green or neon orange?
In all seriousness, the 113th Congress must get back to legislating or risk repeating the sins of the past. With many of the 112thers carrying over to the 113th, we should all be a little wary. However, I’m hopeful that the debacle that was the fiscal cliff will serve a reminder that a change is long overdue.