By AATTP Guest Contributor, Rob Ellsworth
There are “good guys” and “bad guys,” marginally talented entertainers who would struggle to earn a living in any other profession, and orchestrated story lines with predetermined outcomes designed to entertain a largely unsophisticated cross-section of society. And, just like a pro-wrestler, a Congressman can easily be distracted by an attractive blonde or suitcase full of cash, only to turn around and get smashed in the face with a chair (see talk radio, blogs and cable news).
I lived this bullshit in both parties. When I first started on campaigns and as a congressional staffer, I had a bad habit of answering every constituent question and explaining policies to them. I quickly learned this was a waste of time and bad for business. Because sadly, a lot of the people who write or call their congressman are complete lunatics essentially doing the bidding of whatever liberal or conservative interest group directed their call or email to Capitol Hill. They take pride in not knowing what the Hell they’re talking about and just want to vent. (*However, I will stipulate that there are occasional nice grandmothers and otherwise thoughtful citizens who are informed and quite genuine. One even made me cookies for helping her!).
I was quickly trained to answer questions without really answering them, make it sound like we were in agreement when we clearly were not, and to dumb-down my writing to a 6th grade level (I’m not kidding). The better I got, the faster I moved up the ladder and became further removed from constituents not included in a polling sample. That’s not a good thing.
If you wonder why representatives sound and behave like they’re in middle school, take a good look at their market research and realize their title is “Representative,” not “Professor.” Trust me, it ain’t pretty out there in a lot of these Congressional districts. I don’t care where you’re from, take a good look at the numbskulls around your supermarket, church, office, PTA meetings, neighborhood, or country club. These boobs are not underrepresented in Congress – this much I promise.
Our representatives have the power to take up to 39.6% of our income, regulate most aspects of our lives, and send our kids to war. Yet, how many Americans can name their Congressman and both Senators?
I write this not to make people hate Congress even more. That’s not possible. I write to have people understand that “Congress” and “Washington” have just become abstract scapegoats to deflect blame from our own doorsteps. “We The People” make their jobs more difficult and discourage other competent candidates for public office from bothering to run because of the incessant bullshit. I’m angrier at Americans who know better and can do more (but just decide to throw their hands in the air and quit) than the motivated dumb asses who control the debate on the most illogical terms.
We say we want bipartisanship and compromise, but we’re all good at throwing sucker punches every chance we get. We complain about nothing getting done, but we demonize anyone who tries to change anything. We want our budget balanced, but only if other people’s taxes are raised and programs we like aren’t cut.
If we collectively understood half as much about Congress as Game of Thrones, Dancing with the Stars, or which movie star hasn’t lost her baby weight, then passing a federal budget wouldn’t feel like a steel cage match at WrestleMania.
Don’t get pissed. Get involved.
Rob Ellsworth is a political consultant based in Washington D.C. and co-founder of The Majority Group