The Right Honorable (and Useless) Members of Congress

Yes, I’m being sarcastic with the headline because we don’t use “right honorable” in this country. We use only “honorable,” and that label applies to the office a member of the U.S. Congress holds and is not a reference to the character of the person holding the office. It’s a healthy tradition for Americans to honor the elected position even if they hold little regard for the person they’ve elected.

My use of the word “useless” is on purpose and is not sarcastic. Let me quickly defend it: when it comes to participation on the information war we’re currently engaged in, how many members of the Illinois Republican Congressional delegation do you see actively fighting to lower the number of low information voters in their home state?

For anyone paying a little attention to their congressional reps it can be easy to spot the ones whose main activities are aimed at entrenching themselves into that office. Other members are seen spending most of their time climbing the political or social ladder in Washington, D.C. A couple of those in the delegation can be observed looking around for a different office to run for next — whether it be for governor or from the house over to the senate.

It’s a safe bet that the members of our Illinois Republican congressional delegation give due diligence to constituent service, and that’s right and good. But that doesn’t lead to victories in the info war. Most if not all go to the trouble of holding town hall meetings and make it a point to send out press releases to Illinois media outlets. The evidence shows that those activities aren’t enough if we’re going to gain ground.

Remember that in the 2012 election our Illinois Republican delegation got smaller and Obama won as big as ever statewide. If our GOP members of congress were playing their role as public opinion leaders — their home state should be well on the way at least to becoming a ‘swing’ state. Instead Illinois will be hard ‘Dem’ for the foreseeable future.

Small minds dominate these high offices and even good and honest men and women seem to think they’ll get to a different result on election day by merely doing the same things that have always been done.

Again the argument arises: “Do you know how busy a member of Congress is?” Yes, actually, I do. I worked for one — along with a sizable group other people. Congressional staffs are plenty big easing the workload for the boss. As with my comments the other day about school board members and my post yesterday about state legislators — no amount of work should get in the way of what Abraham Lincoln and the Founding Fathers saw as the first priority: moving public opinion.

So what can our Republican members of congress accomplish when it comes to changing hearts and minds? A great deal. In case you might have forgotten, we’ve even got a Republican U.S. Senator here in Illinois. His potential reach is massive — and if he wasn’t trying to hide the fact that he’s a better fit for the Democratic Party maybe he’d use his bully pulpit to its full potential.

A minority of our congressional districts in Illinois currently elect Republicans but that’s no matter. Just like a minority status state legislative caucus can punch above its weight when acting as a team, so can any one member of congress — due to the size and importance of their office. But do you see any of our guys getting aggressive about influencing public sentiment back at home as individuals or as a group? I don’t. If you do send me a note here and I’ll hold it up as a wonderful example for how a Republican member of congress can drop the word “useless” from his title.

Up next: the tea party and patriot groups.

First published October 25, 2013.

Image credit: www.mobilepetgroomingsandiego.com.