We hire representatives to represent us. That’s their job, right?Well, these days we’re not getting the real deal. For a lot of reasons. One is that strings are being pulled from behind the scenes by folks we never voted for at all: congressional staffers.
You see, career politicians are typically absentee landlords. The dirty work of drafting legislation, even deciding its substance, falls to staffers, the so-called “hill rats.” That can cause trouble. In one case, hill rats added a prohibition to a Justice Department budget against transferring personnel. The small reason was to save the jobs of a couple men running a small FBI office in Montana. But because of that trivial manipulation, the Justice Department was stopped from reorganizing its entire force on organized crime.
Once in a while there’s an uproar about this kind of thing, but usually the rats just get away with it. Former Congressman Mark Sanford was one legislator who worked to stem the tide of out-of-control staffs. Sanford, who voluntarily limited his terms in office, voted to cut committee staffs and voluntarily reduced his own office staff. But until the career politicians have an incentive to do more than just gear up for the next election, Sanford’s example will be a lonely one.
The job of representation should not one be palmed off on courts, regulatory agencies, or unelected staff. Legislators should make the laws, but too many are too busy pursuing their political careers.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.