Congress: The Reality Show


Congress: The Reality Show

By Kelly Leigh Harris
Thursday Review Contributing Writer

Since we live in an age where politics and journalism seem to be continuously merging into entertainment—or infotainment, as the term applies here—then I have a proposal.

Let’s have all elected officials in Washington, and this includes members of the both the House and the Senate, on the air 24 hours a day to their constituents back home. I’m not talking about C-Span. What I am proposing is a continuous live television feed of every activity of every member of Congress, 24 hours a day, seven days a week—in formal dining rooms and conferences, in private meeting rooms, in ante rooms and side offices, in the cloak rooms, the elevators and subways, in restaurants and bars and nightclubs, in parking garages and lobbies, even in bathrooms (audio will do fine here). The point is to have some accountability for their actions and behavior during the time we pay for them to be working for us in Washington, D.C.

Here are some other rules that would apply:

1. No member of Congress would be exempt from live feeds to constituents.

2. All members of Congress will be paid only $25,000 per year with no perks.

3. In exchange for the modest salary and zero perks, bonuses would be awarded for efficient or exemplary work, and most especially for getting things done.

4. Constituents may call any time on a toll-free line to vote "you're safe" or "you're in danger," and these calls must be answered, or returned--directly--by that member of Congress within 24 hours.

5. Fines and penalties will be assessed to members of Congress who engage in tardiness, misapproriation, misuse of taxpayer money, distortions, lies, fibs, name-calling, skipping meetings, and other infractions.

6. The live feed will contain no advertising; production costs will be paid for entirely from the fines imposed on members of Congress who engage in misbehavior.

7. When the revenue collected from these fines exceeds the cost of video production, the surplus goes directly toward education programs in those members' home congressional districts.

8. Money collected from these fines must hit the treasury of its intended locality within 24 hours.

9. If a member of Congress receives three major infractions in a term, they should pack their bags and return home.

10. Once ousted, that's it; those former members of Congress should get a job more closely suited to their effectiveness and skills, including jobs which require the phrase "do you want fries with that?"

11. Vacated seats are immediately placed in special elections so that voters can send a new contestant.

12. The last one standing gets to be President, though the same rules continue to apply.

This process can also be easily extended toward sports, and maybe then they'll actually inspire our kids instead of being bad examples.