In a few weeks I will celebrate my 67th birthday. I like to think that after 35 years as an economics and business journalist, I can provide Washington Post readers with some knowledge, experience and wisdom. But I also know that I've lost a step or two and can not keep up with my younger colleagues in the newsroom. Nor would it occur to me, or more importantly, in the marketing department of The Post, to consider myself the "face" of the newspaper's brand.
I thought about it on Wednesday when I went over the list of Democrats who will lead the US House of Representatives when the new Congress arrives in January.
There are the three frontrunners, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn, who are either 78 or 79. And then there are the members of the evaluation committee, who will take over the chairmanship under the strict seniority regime of the Democrats. The youngest, Ted Deutch, is 52 years old. The eldest, Nina Lowey at Rules, is 81 years old. The average age is 74 years. In terms of political details, their communication and leadership skills, and their ability to connect with the average voter. It can be said that most – with a few exceptions – have lost a step or two. In this anti-establishment era, no one with a political or marketing sense would think of presenting it as a "face" of the Democratic brand.
And yet they are determined to stick to it and do just that. After waiting for years to wait their time and facing the unworthy and disgusting Republican majority in the last six years of outrage, they are determined to seek revenge, reward their allies, and complete their planned agenda Years ago, when they first arrived at the Capitol. They tell themselves that there is no need to change personnel or politics because the political dynamic is with them: the House this year, the Senate and the White House in two years, and then Democrats will be able to to lead the table That's what they did in 2009/10.
The first task of the rising class of members of the Democratic House is to excuse the leaders of their wardrobe fantasies. If summoned to a caucus in a few weeks to select leaders for the new congress, the newcomers should stick together and refuse to participate. If encouraged to work for Plum Committe jobs or help repatriate campaign debt, they must stick together and refuse to be co-opted. Her first task must be to eliminate the old and dilapidated political plumbing of the Capitol – the seniority system, the three-day work week, the leadership-driven agenda, hyper-partisanship and ceaseless fundraising – and replace them with something new and modern and for a deeply divided country.
What would a new political plumber look like?
The best individual idea comes from Solver Caucu's bipartisan problem, which proposed that the Speaker of Parliament be elected by no less than 60 percent of the members, which in practice ensures that future speakers need support from both Democratic and Republican members. This would be a spokesman for the whole house, leaving the majority leader to be the leader of the party. Unfortunately, this was such a good idea and pulled back the leadership of both parties so much that problem solvers eventually gave it up.
My variation of this idea would also give the spokesperson the power to appoint all members of the regulatory committee who will determine which bills will be submitted to plenary, how long they will be debated and which amendments will be offered. Only then would the legislative process be freed from the stranglehold now exerted by party leaders and by them by partisan extremists.
The second part of the installation that needs to be repaired is seniority. One of the few constructive things that Newt Gingrich did when he became spokesman in 1994 was to set a deadline of three terms for the chairman of the republican committees. Democrats should do the same and extend it to party leadership. The geriatric stance that Democrats use for government work and the lack of a credible bank show what happens when a caucus does not regularly renew with young talent.
Of course, insisting on putting the Democratic Newcomer in an awkward position. You should therefore agree that the current Chairpersons of the Management and Committee members may take their place in January, provided that new rules are adopted and new elections are held at the end of the year. In this way, the party can present a new list to voters in time for the 2020 elections.
This does not mean that Pelosi & Co. did a poor job – or not – or that they need to show the door. Rather, they should be shown the respect they deserve and asked to stay around for a few years and share their wisdom and experience. A new spokesperson would be wise to find other important tasks, including positions in the regulatory committee.
Prior to his death earlier this year, John McCain called on his fellow congressmen to return to "regular order." He said he should rely on committees to set the legislative agenda and trade compromises. As my colleague Paul Kane and Derek Willis of Pro Publica earlier this week wrote, the committee process was corrupted as power wandered to party leaders who preferred drafting the legislation with lobbyists behind closed doors and then urging colleagues to give it up the ground, with no opportunity for a meaningful debate or change. A series of minor changes to the House Rules could help restore the power of committee chairs to draft bills and committee members to select committee chairpersons to draft bills in the committee.
Finally, the new Democrats in Congress must insist that their role as legislators is full-time. The current Congress schedule is a joke – a bad joke – in which members spend most of their time waking up to ensure their own reelection by raising campaign funds and showing up at every bean dinner in their districts. Democrats were able to demonstrate their seriousness in governing by announcing that the work week would start on Monday afternoon with a quorum call and would extend until Friday, with the break scheduled for only four weeks of vacation and the remainder of the summer left, As soon as the next year's budget is available, members should be granted generous housing allowances to help them and their families in Washington financially, with the amount of taxpayers or political money they can spend on commuting to their districts , is restricted.
The idea that members of Congress should sleep in their offices so as not to be polluted by Washington's swampy culture was more than just a Republican canard – it was a political cancer that metastasized to a law-breaking disorder. Americans can only take Congress seriously if they take their job seriously. Moving to Washington with their families is a necessary first step.
With an even larger Republican majority in the Senate and Donald Trump in the White House, Democrats have little chance of legislating over the next two years. However, there is a great opportunity to refresh their brand and get the political order back in order. Only then will our democracy be able to reach consensus on taxes, deficits, immigration, infrastructure, health care, climate change and the economic perspectives of the people and regions left behind.
Pearlstein is a post and economic columnist. He is also Robinson Professor of Public Affairs at George Mason University. His book "Can American Capitalism Survive?" Was published this fall by St. Martin & # 39; s Press.