The 535 members of Congress have an opportunity to do the country a tremendous service, possibly the greatest public service ever done by any Congress. This heroic feat would take one day and no legislation. That service would be to resign!
It’s not impossible. It’s not even impractical. The cost is negligible. No new election would be necessary. After the idea has taken hold, we ask Congress to pledge their resignation after the next election, which would be held to elect 535 new members with a fresh perspective Congress lost long ago.
When presented with a catalog of their enduring failings, Congress should feel shock—at which they excel—and shame. Until recently, their ability to experience shame was in doubt. But in the second week of June 2019, Jon Stewart shamed the House Judiciary Committee on their lack of funding the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The next day, the House acted to forward the bill to the Senate. All is in place for demanding their resignation.
The litany of Congressional failures begins with our national debt, which grows every year with record-breaking budget deficits, pushing the debt toward a tipping point that will shackle the country’s ability to do much of anything except pay a small portion of the interest on the debt. Yet Congress continues to spend beyond their means.
The never-ending problem of immigration was supposedly solved in 1986, yet the same number of 11 million illegals is again a crisis. Congress has had decades to solve one of the most intractable problems of our country. Their inability or unwillingness demonstrates their continued incompetence at solving a crisis of their own making.
Congress meddles in things that are not even its purview (such as federal control over local education that should be left to states and school districts), and its one-size-fits-most model has caused the U.S. to fall behind the standard America set a long time ago for excellence in public education. This is one more distressing example of a Congress not knowing what they should not be doing, then failing at it anyway. And they should resign in shame.
Congress’s abdication of its Constitutional duties grows every decade. Lobbyists are intimately involved in the writing of legislation, which is the express duty of Congress. Congress has steadily relinquished the power to declare war, from Harry Truman in Korea to LBJ in Vietnam, escalating with George H.W. Bush’s policing of Kuwait and his son’s ill-advised invasion of Iraq. Each of these acts of war were initiated by the president and “approved” by a cowardly Congress. It is the Constitutional duty of Congress to declare war, not to cede such powers to the president.
To levy a tax and regulate trade are explicit duties of Congress, yet they have been ceding power to the president in various acts for over 100 years. Most of the laws had a loophole granting the president unprecedented authority if the country was at war or in a national emergency—large enough for an aircraft carrier to slip through. Tariffs are taxes (on which party is debatable, but someone is paying more for something) imposed single-handedly at the direction of the president. Many Congresses have passed those laws giving the president the power to set tariffs, and recently most lawmakers shrieked and groaned when President Trump invoked his power to do so. The current Congress could have revoked all his tariff powers legislatively if they wanted, but ceding of powers to the president has been a decades-old strategy to give the president more power so they would have less blame, an egregious ongoing act of cowardice—now standard operating procedure—that is valid grounds for demanding their resignation.
If our electoral process could exert its anticipated influence over our future, elections would rid Congress of its dead wood and pretenders. Yet, the average retention rate of Congress is 96.4%. Whether this inordinate rate is due to gerrymandering or the disproportionate influence of large political money, the 96,4% rate does not allow for the natural cleansing of Congress. And things that don’t get cleansed on schedule get stale, then rancid, then downright rotten.
This is not a complete catalog of all Congressional malfeasance, misdeeds, abdication of Constitutional powers and duties, misconduct, and restraint to not over govern as suggested in the tenth amendment. It is just the greatest of hits or misses, but it is enough on which to base our public impeachment of them.
Even if Congress has been doing a passable job, asking them to resign would be a great idea just for the huge influx of new ideas Congress has proven incapable or unwilling to consider or implement. But their performance has been far below passable for decades and asking them to resign now is not some whimsical notion but the cheapest, fastest way to get the country on track again. We do not tolerate barely adequate in our athletes, parents, car mechanics, teachers, doctors, children, or even ourselves. Passable is not the standard to which we should hold our Congress.
Resignation is not a revolutionary idea. Other countries’ governments do it as a matter of course. England’s prime minister resigned and the country will next hold a special election. In early 2019, the government of Finland resigned because they could not resolve health care reform—one issue. Congress fails on multiple issues in monumental ways, and yet we allow them to persist in failing America.
Congress’s resignation would produce major positive changes immediately and inexpensively. It sounds unprecedented and revolutionary, but America completely changed the country’s future in 1787 by junking the six-year-old Articles of Confederation and instituting the Constitution.
We don’t need a war to cause revolution, just for Congress to do the right, logical, simple, inexpensive, and patriotic thing in resigning for the good of the country. We must demonstrate their failings, the benefits of a new Congress, a way to go about it, and then ask, shame, or force them to resign. It’s simple but it’s not easy. If we do not do this, the fault is not in our Congress but in ourselves.