April 23, 2014

Sarah Palin for U.S. Senate 2014?

Sarah Palin recently said on Sean Hannity’s show that she is considering running for U.S. Senate in 2014. Few people remember that Sarah Palin almost became a U.S. Senator in 2002, but was passed over on the short list by then Governor Frank Murkowski as he appointed his daughter Lisa to fill his unexpired U.S. Senate term he vacated to become Governor. This move by Frank Murkowski caused an uproar and resulted in a referendum that stripped the Governor of Alaska of the power to appoint U.S. Senators to fill unexpired terms. Frank Murkowski would later be defeated by Sarah Palin in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary.

The history lesson here is not the point however. The following is the point.

Many Republicans I know have gotten on social media to call on Sarah to “go away” and have never forgiven her for the gaffes she made in 2008 and blame her for McCain’s loss. Never mind that Joe Biden’s frequent gaffes over a longer period are more weird and that Sarah Palin was the only reason why the McCain campaign was revitalized with a huge influx of volunteers and money for the final two months of the campaign.

These Republicans I know who never forgave Sarah for her gaffes are the same Republicans who forgave and supported… Mark Sanford. Some even knocked on doors for Mark Sanford.

So there you have it folks. Republicans in Washington, DC will never forgive you if you fumble a question inarticulately on national television. However, these same Republicans will forgive you if you like to get freaky with your mistress on taxpayer dollars as long as you never vote for a tax increase.

Just ask Mark Sanford.

The Secularization of the GOP

Let’s clear a few things first. I am a theologically small-o orthodox Christian – the term “conservative Christian” is loaded with improper connotations. I am a social conservative.

I also believe that the Religious Right has done untold damage to conservative Christianity and has actually sped up the secularization of America. In my unscientific estimation, for every 1 new convert the Religious Right wins over from secular America or liberalized, watered-down, mainline denominations, the Religious Right’s coarse rhetoric, the greedy hypocrisy of the Religious Right’s leaders, and its use of big government right-wing social engineering*** has driven away and radicalized 1.5 new secularists.

(***Side note: “Marriage incentives.” Remember that plank on the GOP? What a way to disrespect unlucky single people on the dating scene. The idea that tax breaks and government entitlements will help a man find a wife is ludicrous.)

The Religious Right consisting of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, along with its political mouthpieces in Jesse Helms, Tom Delay, and others of that ilk, has been an abject failure to Christianity. I don’t care about what they did to tarnish the GOP brand so much because I care about Christianity above all, but because the Religious Right used the power of the state vis-a-vis the GOP to create a Dominionist-Dispensationalist Christian world, the Religious Right took down the GOP as they destroyed the public image of Christianity.

In the 1970s, the Religious Right drove out the Neslon Rockefeller Republicans – and I hate Nelson Rockefeller Republicans! But the enemy of my enemy is…my enemy.

With that said, it should be of no surprise to see non-profit social conservative advocacy groups on the ropes after the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA. Despite their steely resolve to save an America they “no longer recognize,” they are on their last legs.

It is a sad state of affairs for the public image of Christianity when most secular people don’t connect Christianity to Bishop Fulton Sheen. They connect Christianity to the flame-throwing Bishop E.W. Jackson.

Of course, the negative connections go all the way back to Jerry Falwell whose ideological adherents like Jesse Helms and Tom Delay made people believe that narrow-minded, hypocritical, power-hungry Christianity = GOP. Worse, it made people believe that narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy, and power hunger = Christianity.

The Religious Right will go the way of the dinosaurs. Pun intended. Thank goodness, but we are not going to see an intellectual, historical Christian revival take place despite my hope. This is because young Republicans are the most secular Republicans we have seen since, well, the Nelson Rockefeller Republicans.

Young Republicans are growing up in an America that competes with Western Europe for the most secular society in the Western world. The South is the last region in the U.S. where people talk about religion casually like they talk about the weather, but even its religious culture is slowly giving way to secularization. On any college campus, College Republicans are almost as likely as College Democrats to be non-church going people. I guarantee you that many College Republicans are just as sexually libertine as College Democrats, probably even worse!

Yet, the reason why the GOP will continue to be relevant is because it has a pipeline of new adherents in the schools. The unifying factor is fiscal conservatism. One look at the ferocious dedication of Ron Paul followers and you will realize that this is a new GOP. Gone are the socially liberal, elitist, urban-industrialist Rockefeller Republicans (ahem, crony capitalist). Gone are the rural, backwoods, fire-breathing Religious Right that married fiscal conservatism to gain power. In are the new Ayn Rand secular objectivists.

Margaret Hoover documented this well in her book, “American Individualism.” The typical young Republican supports fiscal conservatism, limited government, marijuana legalization, sexual freedom, and gay marriage. For many young people, it is all about prioritizing the last three, but the unifier is that the typical young Republican wants the government to get out of his life so he can start a business, keep more of his money, blaze that chronic, fornicate, and respect other people’s living styles equally.

It is an image that is repulsive to Republicans over 70 years old, who grew up in the romanticized, male-dominated 1950s (think Leave It To Beaver). Some young Republicans are like their elders, but their numbers are small.

Even though the record is mixed (ex: losses in 2009, victories in 2012), Democrats continue to campaign on social issues because they are listening to young people. They are hearing on the college campuses that new fiscal conservatives are also secular and that they place their social liberalism on a higher priority than fiscal conservatism. In due time, this strategy will prove wildly successful in demolishing the GOP if trends continue.

Social conservative activists will argue that trends will not continue. They argue that young people have always fallen away from church and stats prove that by the time they are in their 40s, they return to church and become more socially conservative. The activists leave out a crucial detail. The studies were done on people who grew up in church. Today’s generation of young Republicans did not grow up in strong church settings and Christian culture. So we don’t have research numbers for this generation of young Republicans that are still in their 20s. I surmise that it will be harder to evangelize these young Republicans in significant numbers given their distaste for the Religious Right which I explained did a ton of damage to the Christian brand.

So brace yourselves. In about ten years time, America will be a Western Europe type of secular society. Secular progressives will battle it out with secular conservatives in politics. Low taxes, limited government, and a strict Constitutional adherence might very well win the day, but the churches will be empty.

Kelly Ayotte – Marsha Blackburn ’16

Amidst the never ending rumors, speculations, and posturing involved in the 2016 Presidential race, I am registering my pick right now. No, I am not siding with Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, or Ted Cruz.

Everybody knows that Governor Sarah Palin is the primary reason why I am still working in politics when I should have retired long ago to pursue my real interests elsewhere. Should she run for President, I would support her in principle and as a measure of gratitude for the priceless experiences and friendships I have made and the real impact I have made in advancing the women’s movement since 2009. This is all due to my continued involvement in politics after being inspired by Governor Palin to stay persistent in a game in which I have grown disillusioned and disinterested. Yet, I think her window of opportunity to run for President has passed.

That said, I said it here and I said it first. For the Republican Presidential ticket in 2016, I want to see U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte and U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn carrying the banner for free markets and free people. Let’s make it happen.

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R - NH)

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R – NH)

U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R - TN)

U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R – TN)

Governor Sarah Palin (R - AK)

Governor Sarah Palin (R – AK)

Sarah Palin's endorsement of Kelly Ayotte in 2010 propelled Ayotte to victory in a hard fought U.S. Senate race. http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/statenewengland/800277-227/palin-endorses-ayotte-hits-rivals-in-senate.html

Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Kelly Ayotte in 2010 propelled Ayotte to victory in a hard fought U.S. Senate race. http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/statenewengland/800277-227/palin-endorses-ayotte-hits-rivals-in-senate.html

Megyn Kelly destroys sexist, conservative, Fox News males

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/megyn-kelly-erick-erickson-lou-dobbs_n_3367571.html

Note to Fox News males: If it wasn’t for the intelligent and attractive Fox News women, your ratings would drop precipitously.

There is no room in any society for the kind of thinking perpetrated by Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs that says that men must be the dominant head of the household and primary breadwinner otherwise the nation will crumble.

Many of my friends and clients are married, conservative women with children who make more money than their husbands and are the heads of their households. America is better because of this. This is a societal trend that merits celebration and encouragement.

Alisyn Camerota

Alisyn Camerota

Patti Ann Browne

Patti Ann Browne

Ainsley Earhardt

Ainsley Earhardt

Dana Perino

Dana Perino

Gretchen Carlson

Gretchen Carlson

Marketplace (Un)Fairness Act

This is a direct response to this.

http://bearingdrift.com/2013/04/24/it-was-fun-while-it-lasted/

I really despise rent seekers. When these people can’t compete in the marketplace, instead of investing their resources into retooling their business model, they spend their money on lobbyists to force legislators to kill the competition. I am a member of the Congressional Federal Credit Union. I do not like it when banks try to push legislation to cripple the credit unions because they can’t compete with the credit unions’ business model as a nonprofit cooperative which allows them to offer better rates.

(Free advertising: If you do not qualify for credit union membership and need to go with a bank, be a member of McLean’s own Chain Bridge Bank. I am a member of Chain Bridge Bank in addition to the Congressional Federal Credit Union. Chain Bridge Bank offers the best rates, offers the best customer service that you would expect from a small community bank, and practice sound fiscal principles that garnered them recognition as one of America’s safest banks. Tell them Phil Tran sent you.)

Likewise, as a person who has not bought an item other than food from a brick-and-mortar store for ages, I do not like it when brick-and-mortar stores seek to tear down successful internet business models instead of stepping their game up. Things change. Change or die. Blockbuster, Circuit City, many movie theaters, and virtually every mall in America not named Pentagon City (Arlington, VA) or Tysons Corner Center/Tysons Galleria (Tysons Corner, VA) died because they thought the internet was a fad or were slow to react to change in the free market and the market passed them by.

I don’t miss the average American mall, Blockbuster, Circuit City, arcades, or other brick-and-mortar establishments. Internet shopping is a much better experience. Even with an internet tax to “level the playing field” and bring “fairness,” brick-and-mortar stores are still on the path to irrelevance. Public services have not fallen apart in the last decade because we did not capture sales tax revenues from internet transactions. If public services are indeed falling apart (and some are), they are falling apart due to mismanagement, not lack of funding. Cut spending.

These brick-and-mortar stores are acting like unions. When highly specialized entrepreneurs face hard times, they change course, learn new skills, and find creative ways to grow their business during an economic downturn. When highly specialized employees face hard times, instead of trying to change and adapt, some form a union to preserve the status quo against all reason and reality. During the industrial age, unions served a useful purpose because manufacturing was backbreaking work that can be made worse with abusive workplace practices. We live in the information age now without those problems and unions only serve to impede progress in an information age economy.

Here are two solutions.

1. Eliminate the sales taxes on brick-and-mortar stores if we really care about “fairness.” The brick-and-mortar stores are going to die anyway because the internet rules the day. More businesspeople today are looking at commercial real estate as an investment folly and would rather work from the friendly confines of home and keep more of the money they earn.

2. This is much better than #1 and is by far the best solution. Eliminate the income tax which is a tax on hustle and jack up the sales tax. This is proposed every year in Congress as the Fair Tax. Why is the prevailing culture in this nation vacuous, superficial, and materialistic? It is in part because we punish hustling through the income tax and reward consumption through low sales taxes. Do you want to be a maker (hustler) or do you want to be a taker (consumer)? Our public policies punish hustling and reward taking.

Beyond the battle between brick-and-mortar stores and internet businesses, this is a big business vs. small business battle. If we truly want to protect America’s stature as the land of opportunity, we need to support small business. In America, especially in today’s information age, the barriers to entry in business are so low that any aspiring person with a computer, a phone, an internet connection, a dream, and a lot of drive can start a self-sufficient, successful business from home. Do we really want that enthusiastic teenager, that ambitious recent graduate, that stay-at-home mother, or that stay-at-home father to have to comply with 9600 different tax districts when they mail a product? They say they can cure this with software. Well that means I would no longer need an accountant because I can simply use Turbo Tax, right? (Not!)

Finally, this is a battle between old America and new America. I stand with the future. Old America has romanticized memories of piling into the car, driving to the mall, shopping till they drop, hitting the food court, playing at the arcade, and catching a movie. As part of the Millenial Generation, I see this as wasting valuable business productivity being stuck in traffic, finding less selections in store as opposed to the world marketplace of the internet, unhealthy fast food, and blowing money on activities that come at a much lower cost today at home via the internet.

The market will always move faster than the government. Young, ambitious entrepreneurs see the world they want to live in and make it a reality. Elected officials are old and obsolete from a bygone era. After serving in public office, they have lost their imagination and ingenuity and hold on to nostalgic, romanticized images of their younger days. These images shape the worldview in which these old politicians use to shape public policy. These old elected officials do not see what the young entrepreneurs see and do not craft the right public policies to allow creativity and innovation to flourish.

It is time to return public service to its part-time roots. Government was never intended to be a full-time job because the framers wanted elected officials to live in the real world so they can understand how to formulate effective public policy. Even the “part-time” state legislatures in America like the Virginia General Assembly are full-time jobs in reality because politics has now become a year-round sport. In addition to fighting unfair, backwards, dinosaur-era legislation like the “Marketplace Fairness Act” we need to severely cut down and restrict the time elected officials and challenger candidates spend “on the clock” in politics regardless of where they are so they can spend more time on the clock in the real world like the rest of us. Does this unconstitutionally restrict the movement of elected officials and challenger candidates throughout the year? Of course it does, but less freedom for the politicians to politic year-round means more freedom for the people.

Mark Sanford, Teflon Don (and the future of social conservatives in the GOP)

Let the record state that I believe in repentance and redemption. Some people we consider to be fine leaders and role models would have never gotten their chance if we never got past their indiscretions like drunkenness, fornication, and out of wedlock births. This could be anybody we know today, but I am thinking of Saint Augustine who was a known hedonist and had an out of wedlock child before he accepted Jesus Christ and cleaned up his life.

That said, there is very strong evidence today that, in light of concurrent sudden ideological shifts, the Republican Party is leapfrogging its way back to its socially liberal Rockefeller era with Mark Sanford’s primary runoff victory today for the South Carolina Congressional special election. Mark Sanford, who left the Governor’s office in embarrassment for lying to his constituents about running away with a mistress, has done the no longer unthinkable, but highly probable political comeback after a sordid sex scandal. Heck, if U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) can do some freaky thangs with some hoes and still win reelection with a purportedly socially conservative Republican base, Mark Sanford’s indiscretions are just small potatoes.

In fact, Sanford didn’t really need the social conservatives to cruise to victory. His primary runoff opponent had the entire family values movement behind him and lost the numbers game to the fiscal conservative-focused Sanford supporters. When you take this event and reflect on the fact that former Presidential candidate and Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR), who is a socially conservative Baptist preacher, was criticized by Republicans for being a “liberal” because his thoughtful interpretation of the Bible led him to advocate some social justice issues in the economy, and reflect on the fact that in recent years, CPAC attendees prioritized fiscal conservatism over social conservatism and national security to the raw percentage of 70%+, the trends are very clear.

If these trends continue, we might see social issues completely off the table in 2016 as the Democratic and Republican Presidential nominees present their secular progressive and secular conservative visions for America – Western European style. If social conservatives leave the GOP as a result, could this provide the opportunity for Democrats to pick up a constituency they used to have from the 1920s through the early 1970s? Could Hillary Clinton, similar to Bill, try to speak the language in order to win back working class Catholics and Evangelical Protestants who have been reluctantly voting Republican if social issues are off the table in 2016?

Here are some of my hypotheses if the trends continue as stated.

- We will see a massive realignment in American party politics in 2016. The two major parties have realigned themselves in terms of issues and coalitions in America every 40 to 60 years. The Democratic Party in 1964 was not the Democratic Party from 1876. Who would have thought that a Democratic Party that had the support of the old Confederacy would embrace MLK? The Republican Party in 1980 was not the Republican Party from 1864. Would have thought that the party of Abraham Lincoln became the party of Jesse Helms? The Republican Party in 1928 was not the Republican Party of 1900. Few people are actually aware that there was a time period in which the Republican Party was a progressive party from the late 1800s to 1920 when it would become the fiscally conservative party. Will the Republican Party of 2016 be the party of Rand Paul? Will it go even farther and be the party of Mark Kirk?

- If social conservatives are dissatisfied with a secular conservative vision of America that could be presented by the Republican Party in 2016, and America remains equally split between secular progressivism and secular conservatism, could the Democrats exploit the opportunity to reconsolidate their power by giving social conservatives a seat a the table at minimum? The powers that be in the RNC are sorely mistaken if they believe that social conservatives are monolithic in economic matters and will be fiscally conservative as well. Social conservatives, ironically, will have an amplified voice and temporary bargaining power at least in 2016 if both political parties go secular.

Is Easter sacred anymore? Not even for Republicans?

I took a little a hiatus to go on my “I Told You So: Anti-Mitt Romney Republican Tour” and tend to other work.  I hope the GOP never nominates another stiff, flip-flopping, exclusive, elitist, entitled, patrician, power-hungry politician like Mitt ever again.  Gee, Big Gipper, tell us how you really feel…

Well, other than my utter, total disdain for Mitt Romney, I am a Republican through and through.  I am a fiscal conservative AND, I know it is not popular these days within the GOP, a social conservative.

I remember growing up a long time ago.  We actually took time off for Easter.  Spring break did not double up with Easter.  They were two separate holidays so kids would get one full week off for spring break and a five day weekend for Easter that started on Holy Thursday and gave us the next Monday off so we could recover from feasting and visiting with friends and family.  Non-believers existed back then too and no one protested against more holidays regardless of the occasion for such holidays.  Many stores closed to observe Easter.  To the best of my recollection, as long as I have been involved, politicians took Easter off as well.

Today, spring break doubles up with Easter for political correctness.  The Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunts have been renamed Spring Bunny and Spring Festivals.  Many stores and restaurants stay open through Easter weekend.

Arguably worst of all, politics continues as usual with politicians, including the so-called “Christian, conservative” Republicans, holding meet-and-greets, door knocks, and last minute fundraising appeals if Easter falls on the last weekend in March – an important filing deadline.  You can find these Christian Republicans giving Easter praise and platitudes on the campaign trail.  You just won’t find these Christian Republicans praising His Resurrection in church.  How Pharisaic of these people!

I guess one could write a treatise about the secularization and Western Europeanization of America and some already have.  For now, I will just say that for those who are sympathetic to this viewpoint, we are where we are today not wholly through the fault of government policies that have driven faith away from the public square into the private home, but it is mainly the fault of many mainstream Christians and Christian denominations that have capitulated to the demands of secular culture and modified their theology to appease the secularists and not offend them.  In doing so, the orthodox Christians (small “o” orthodox – traditionalist – not to be confused with Eastern Orthodox, but they are orthodox as well) have abandoned those denominations in search of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestant churches that still “cling” to a historical understanding of the faith and the secularists are happy about the changes in the liberal churches (Episcopalians, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, etc.), but the secularists are not converted to Christianity.  In fact, a watering down of the Christian faith (ex: denying the Resurrection and the miracles like Thomas Jefferson did) makes it easier for Christians to become secularists.  Some of these liberal mainline Protestant churches have clergy who are atheist.  Some of our Christian seminaries employ teachers, tasked with training Christian ministers, who are atheist (see Bart Ehrmann). Can you believe that?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Politics flows downstream from culture.  Politics does not influence culture.  It merely reflects culture.  Easter is just not that important to our public sector and private sector anymore.  It sure isn’t that important with our politicians, Democratic and Republican, either.

I am afraid that we will soon see the following two political parties in an increasingly polarized America.  There will be a liberal party that admires Karl Marx and there will be a conservative party that worships Ayn Rand.  Karl Marx and Ayn Rand have one thing in common.  They are both outspoken atheists.

I am dropping out of politics all together if it ever gets to this point.  I may be a fiscal conservative, but my money is not more important than my soul.

Ronald Reagan raised the gas tax to pay for public transit.

An often forgotten fact about the icon of the conservative movement is that President Ronald Reagan raised the gas tax and dedicated a portion of the revenues to finance public transit. President Reagan was a Republican who supported public transit. I am a supporter of President Reagan.

So much has changed since 1983. Ronald Reagan would be excommunicated in today’s GOP that tries to kill public transit at every opportunity.

From the DC Streets Blog. http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/02/16/flashback-ronald-reagan-touts-gas-tax-hike-transit-funding-as-job-creators/

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On January 6, 1983, the icon of the modern conservative movement, Ronald Reagan, signed legislation to raise the gas tax for the first time in more than two decades, devoting a portion of the revenue to transit.

We’ve been reading about this moment a lot, as the current GOP leadership in the House tries to undo Reagan’s legacy by eviscerating dedicated transit funding.

In this ABC News clip, you can see that Reagan touted the measure, a five cent gas tax increase, as an economic catalyst. It would raise $5.5 billion for transportation investment and result in 320,000 new jobs, the administration said. The measure even reserved one cent per gallon for transit, all for the cost of about $30 a year for the average driver.

Sounds like a win-win, right? After some initial resistance to the idea, Reagan eventually came around to that perspective, even if some special interest groups (truckers) didn’t.

What a difference 29 years makes.

Georgia mother uses .38 revolver to protect herself against a home invasion

Don’t just cut Congressional pay, cut Congressional elegance

On New Year’s Eve, I posted the following on Facebook.

My political statements on Facebook are rare and this is the last one I will make this year. There will never be any entitlement reform of any variety – serious, at the margins, or superficial – as long as our current form of democracy exists. It will require several major constitutional amendments or, gasp, a completely new form of government to reform entitlements. We are lucky to only have had two forms of government (Articles of Confederation, U.S. Constitution) while other countries start over from scratch a number of times.

The reason why entitlement reform demands drastic upheaval is because of Social Security. Old people vote in significantly large numbers. Democrats don’t want to lose this constituency so they do nothing about Social Security. Republicans pay lip service about reforming Social Security, but ultimately never do anything because they are afraid of losing an election. We are stuck with a demographic time bomb as more old people continue to vote for politicians that will give them more free stuff and politicians fear losing their posh offices on the Hill. It is a vicious cycle.

Setting aside practical and constitutional issues, ideas to solve the problem would center around removing all the benefits of being elected. Strip down all the fancy decorations in the House and Senate Office Buildings, eliminate the 24/7 news cycle that makes celebrities out of politicians, make Congress part-time with no pay, and force the Members, the President, and the Justices to keep their day jobs and live in public housing in Congress Heights, SE DC (da hood) when they are in town for business, etc. There is way too much pimpin’ and swaggering on Capitol Hill. When being elected becomes much less of an “honor” and much more of a burden, perhaps our elected officials will do more to preserve this great nation and less to cultivate their celebrity and legacy.

This received favorable reviews. Everyone talked about entitlements and one of my friends asked me what I thought about term limits. This was my response.

I understand the pros and cons of term limits. I noticed that no one thus far has commented on my proposals, because I never want to criticize a problem without offering a solution. Setting aside constitutional issues like I said earlier, I believe that my proposals would act as a natural term limit and render term limits unnecessary.

Think about it. If Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Pelosi, Boehner, and Cantor had to work for free in spartan tenements stripped of its elegant, awe-inspiring, patriotic decor and go home to public housing in Congress Heights every night, how long do you really think these pampered, posh, and pimpin’ patricians will last in Washington? They would barely last a term and might actually do the people’s work instead trying to preserve their quality of life via electoral success because they would have no quality of life!

To understand the problems in Washington requires understanding the deep-seated, unspoken desires and passions of politicians – fame and celebrity. Sure there people out there who are truly concerned about the people. However, people can serve the public in many different ways. No title is necessary. A person can volunteer at a school or a homeless shelter. An enterprising, entrepreneurial person can develop a product or a service to meet a need in the community. Changing laws you feel are unjust does not require one to win elected office. It requires private individuals spearheading populist movements to pressure elected officials to change the law. Often, these types of community service can be more rewarding and even more lucrative than public office. There is nothing in the realm of public service that you can do in office that you can’t do outside of office. It just takes a little more creativity and initiative.

Public office requires raising money and/or self-financing a campaign in order to win the opportunity to serve. For most people, the money pit is a black hole and makes absolutely no financial sense. Many winning and losing candidates have lost their entire savings accounts and are deep in debt. The salaries of public officials often don’t justify the amount of work they have to put in for their government and political obligations.

Why run for office? Congress and the School Board make laws. In many ways, the School Board has a more direct impact on people’s lives than Congress. Why run for Congress instead of the School Board if you are truly willing to serve?

The answers are fame and celebrity. Let me remind you of my remedies to fix Congress so that they can actually have a spine and incentive to solve the nation’s fiscal crisis without fear of losing an election.

Strip down all the fancy decorations in the House and Senate Office Buildings, eliminate the 24/7 news cycle that makes celebrities out of politicians, make Congress part-time with no pay, and force the Members, the President, and the Justices to keep their day jobs and live in public housing in Congress Heights, SE DC (da hood) when they are in town for business, etc. There is way too much pimpin’ and swaggering on Capitol Hill. When being elected becomes much less of an “honor” and much more of a burden, perhaps our elected officials will do more to preserve this great nation and less to cultivate their celebrity and legacy.

Few calculating politicians with eyes set upon Congress make the decision to run for School Board on their first try. School Boards deal with expulsions, zoning, and budget cuts. These are necessary, but highly unpopular tasks that will provide a gold mine for opposition researchers should the School Board member seek a seat in Congress. It makes more sense to run for the County Board or State Legislature first or just run straight for Congress on the first attempt. On the County Board and State Legislature, like every other elected office, you get the benefit of being called “The Honorable” for life and your name will always be on the short list to run for higher office.

Fame and celebrity are the unspoken, deep-seated reasons why politicians run for Congress. DC is Hollywood if you want to get into politics. When I went to school in Texas, I dreamed about running for Congress so that I could go to DC and never come back!

In college, I was shocked to learn that the Members of Congress flew home every weekend. What? No scenic drives, sight-seeing, exploration, lounging, and partying in DC on the weekends? I learned that the Members flew home every weekend in order to maintain a connection with the voters so they can keep their jobs in DC. I figured I might as well live in DC then. DC has always felt more like home to me than Texas.

Why is DC the Hollywood of the East Coast? First, take a stroll through The Capitol, the Senate Office Buildings (Russell, Dirksen, Hart), and the House Office Buildings (Cannon, Longworth, Rayburn). The decorations and appointments in the offices and common areas are majestic, awe-inspiring, grand, humbling, luxurious, empowering, exquisite, elegant, and exotic all at the same time. These buildings attract millions of visitors and impressionable, aspiring young politicians quiver in their knees walking through the hallowed ground where giants and icons of history like James Madison, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Robert LaFollette, John Kennedy, Sam Rayburn, and many others have walked before. When I worked on the Hill, I skipped many lunches in order to use my staff ID to access all areas of the Capitol and admire our nation’s rich heritage by myself. It never gets old.

When Members of Congress talk about sleeping in their offices to save money on rent just like how they would work to save taxpayer money, I laugh. A Capitol Hill office has much more amenities, luxury, and elegance than most of the so-called luxury apartments available for rent in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Yes, there are showers, a weight room, 24 hour security, dry cleaners, post offices, cafeterias, convenience stores, and even a clinic on the Capitol grounds. I don’t feel sorry for politicians who sleep in their Capitol Hill offices one bit. They are living well and are just trying to score political points with the unsuspecting voters. When I worked on the Hill, I wished everyday that I could live and sleep in the office.

When the Members do rent in the DMV, they live in luxury apartments in NW Washington DC, Bethesda, MD, Arlington, VA, or Alexandria, VA. The rich purchase homes in NW Washington DC, Potomac, MD, or McLean, VA. More power to them if they choose to live in those places. I would like to live in those places myself. However, how many of the Members of Congress pull a Cory Booker and decide to live with the underclass to keep it real? I have hung out in Southeast DC on the other side of the Anacostia River. I have explored churches in Ward 8. There is a lot of good people there, but it is a different socioeconomic world that is more closer to the reality for most Americans who are desperately seeking economic opportunities and feel the American Dream slipping away from them. I will wager that 99% of the Members of Congress have never set foot in Southeast DC. Their vision of the world outside of the Hill becomes distorted and insular.

Second, DC is the Hollywood of the East Coast, because, it IS Hollywood. The old adage states that “politics is Hollywood for the ugly.” In reality, there are a lot of good looking people in politics and yes, politics IS Hollywood, period. The 24/7 news cycle has turned politicians into celebrities. There are a good number of politicians out there who revel in the spotlight unabashed. Chuck Shumer, Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Michelle Bachmann are a few examples. Some of the Members of Congress are more well known for their media appearances than their legislative accomplishments. The Member’s communications director functions as the Member’s agent and promoter.

The 24/7 news cycle is not a necessity for the preservation of democracy. Watch an entire day of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. I have, sadly, which was one of the reasons I cut my cable service. The programming changes throughout the day, but the different talking heads say the same things over and over again. This gives elected officials, candidates, consultants, staff, and lowly executive directors of the non-profit you-never-heard-of-that-can-barely-keep-the-lights-on face time with the camera to “analyze” the issues of the day. These people then use the screen shots of themselves on television and post them on Facebook to get 1,000 likes from their friends thinking that they are now big shots when in reality, they are living in a one bedroom dump with four other dudes off of Park Road NW in Columbia Heights, DC.

Are you familiar with People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” list? Did you know that The Hill newspaper is one of the premier local newspapers for public policy professionals and is delivered to Capitol Hill offices everyday? Did you know that The Hill publishes its own 50 Most Beautiful People on the Hill list every summer? Did you know that every year, the 50 people who make the list become instant celebrities on the cocktail party circuit in DC? It does not matter if you have to wait tables after you leave your job as a staff assistant to an overbearing, unruly boss because you can’t pay the bills living in the DMV on $25,000 per year. Making the list makes you a star among the Washington insiders and gives off the veneer of wealth and power. Power is the most intoxicating drug of choice in Washington.

I know because I lived IN that world and I was a part OF that world. One of my main goals during my brief time on the Hill was to make The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People list. It was an exercise in vanity and there was a lot of fun in the chase. I am not ashamed and I am not sorry. I would do it all over again and treasure every day and every moment on the Hill from the history-making moments on the floor, to the routine responses to constituent inquires, to the mundane trips to the storage room on the 3rd floor of Cannon House Office Building to set up an event.

I miss working on Capitol Hill for the very two things I want to strip away from the Hill to save the nation. First, I miss the luxury, elegance, grandeur, and captivating office space that stokes pride and patriotism in our great nation, still the greatest nation in the history of the world and a force for good despite its flaws.

Second, I missed the Hollywood aspects of working on the Hill. Lord blessed me with the ability and determination to play college football, but I don’t possess the size and strength necessary to play in the NFL. As far as music is concerned, my swagger is hot, but my lyricism is unoriginal. I’m not a baller or a rapper. Politics was my way out to stardom and the 24/7 news cycle provides ample opportunities for Washington insiders to be in front of the camera or close to those who are. I remember excitedly calling my old man to let him know I was live on C-SPAN sitting behind the Chief of Staff in a cameraman’s line of sight at a Committee hearing. It was superficial and vacuous, but it sure was a lot of fun that I do miss.

I say all that to establish my credibility when I say that I surmise that many of the Members of Congress feel the same way I do, but they are afraid to say it for fear of backlash from the voters even though it is the truth. Don’t let the smooth talk fool you. The Members of Congress live large. They get $174,000 per year, the world’s greatest office space, and a 24/7 news cycle that beckons at their will and call to make them celebrities.

The Members of Congress are afraid to lose this lifestyle. Therefore, they will do anything to keep it. Old people who vote in significant numbers will not vote for people who will reform Social Security despite the fact that it will be insolvent with less young people able to pay into the system. As a result, neither political party will do anything about entitlement reform. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are guilty. It is a vicious cycle that will inevitably end in disaster, but life is too comfortable for the Members of Congress to truly care. They just look at every crisis as an opportunity to get their face on television and execute a power grab despite their lack of credibility to speak out on an issue.

Constitutional and practical issues aside, there are two drastic reforms to implement in order for us to facilitate real work on Capitol Hill.

1. Cut the luxury and elegance of Congress. This will never happen because the artwork, architecture, and artifacts of Capitol Hill are priceless and cannot be feasibly relocated. Yet, think about it. School Board offices are lame. Nobody wants to sleep in a School Board office. You know for sure that School Board members are not in it for the supreme office space and the upper class quality of life that is attached to it. Likewise, the Members of Congress need not live in ivory towers removed from the realities of the working class. Force them to work in office spaces that look more like a rural County Board situated in Podunk and make them live in DC public housing when they are in town for business. That will help them to keep it real and keep their priorities straight.

2. Eliminate the 24/7 news cycle. This will never happen because of the 1st Amendment. Yet, consider that every politician has an ego and likes to see his name and face on television. Without a culture of celebrity in Washington, this would lessen the incentive of politicians to seek opportunities for shameless self-promotion in the wake of a massive failure to solve the nation’s problems. If politicians would rather be ballers and rappers, they should be ballers and rappers. Stop using politics as the means for fame and celebrity.

When elected office becomes much less of an “honor” and much more of a burden, perhaps our elected officials will grow a spine to make the unpopular tough decisions that will save the country. Losing elected office would become an incentive for such action because it would improve their quality of life!