Opinion

Boyd Matheson: The echo of the empty Congressional chamber

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  • Thomas Thompson SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 19, 2017 8:35 a.m.

    This wouldn't happen in England, where Parliament has genuine (and thoughtful) debates and virtually everyone is present. Perhaps we ought to adopt a more parliamentary form of government?

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    April 19, 2017 8:13 a.m.

    @Craig Clark.
    The Founders were actually much brighter than you give them credit for.

    They knew they could not anticipate future events and how society would change in the next 100, 200, or 300 years. So, they provided the Amendment mechanism with a very high bar, to only enshrine widely and broadly accepted concepts under the umbrella of the Constitution.

    Those in government who attempt to do end runs around the Constitution and its Amendment process transparently show their contempt for that document and their fellow Americans.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 18, 2017 12:54 p.m.

    @Yuge
    RE: "Members of Congress rely too much on staff research and party guidance to know what to think and how to vote"...
    ---
    I agree. We keep hearing from folks in Congress, "Why even read the bill"... when they know it doesn't matter what's in the bill. You have to vote the way your party-boss tells you anyway. (voice of John Conyers rings in my ears, "why read the bill")...

    They know they don't need to read the bill. They know they won't even understand the bill (unless they can hire a lawyer to sit with them while they read it to explain it to them). And they know they are going to vote the way their boss tells them anyway... so why even read the bill?

    Google "Conyers: Why read the bill"...

    I'm sick and tired of every Democrat voting the way their boss tells them. And every Republican voting the way their boss tells them. They work for us... not their National Party Bosses. Yet they all seem to vote the same. Very rare that an R votes with the D's (or visa versa).

    It's a shame IMO.

    Nobody listens to anybody in Congress. They already know how they are going to vote before the debate even begins.

    That's why their approval rating is even lower than Trump's.

  • hbeckett Colfax, CA
    April 18, 2017 12:25 p.m.

    very nice article thank you for your research will things change probably not

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    April 18, 2017 11:46 a.m.

    @Craig Clark:

    "The founders of 1776 and 1787 were indeed farsighted men but how could they possibly have anticipated all of this?"

    Exactly the same way they anticipated every man, woman, and toddler in America having a constituitional right to carry an AR-15.

  • Yuge Opportunity Here Mapleton, UT
    April 18, 2017 10:31 a.m.

    Hear! Hear!

    But the problem is even worse. Members of Congress rely too much on staff research and party guidance to know what to think and how to vote. No one seriously believes that their Rep spends his time poring over the details of proposed legislation and calling fellow Reps to have them explain a particular clause. That doesn't happen.

    As for committee hearings, they are no better...unless the issue is a hot button. Most of the meetings are sparsely attended, and committee members come to give a speech, and then leave without even hearing the testimonies offered.

    Sometimes they'll adjourn to run over and cast a vote, then come back to the committee hearings.

    Maybe we need to install time clocks and pay them by the hour.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 18, 2017 8:29 a.m.

    The technology of mass communication competes with the now empty floor of Congress. Twitter has left Teddy Roosevelt’s bully pulpit in the dust. It’s no match, not even close. The founders of 1776 and 1787 were indeed farsighted men but how could they possibly have anticipated all of this?

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    April 18, 2017 7:49 a.m.

    Matheson has made some good points here. Congress has largely ignored the interests of the people, almost in deliberate imitation of despots such as Kaiser Wilhelm II.

    The Greek legislator Solon once stated, "The observation of the numerous misfortunes that attend all conditions forbids us to grow insolent upon our present enjoyment, or to admire a man's happiness that may yet, in course of time, suffer change. For the uncertain future has yet to come, with all variety of future; and him only to whom the divinity has guaranteed continued happiness until the end may we call happy."

    Solon was known for his dignity, reserve, upright morals, humility, frugality, wisdom, intelligence, and courage. He was the perfect example of someone who was a statesman, not a politician. That is exactly what we need today: political leaders who are statesmen, not politicians.

  • Pete Ashdown Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2017 7:37 a.m.

    Why is it that parliament in England has real debates and we don't? What would happen if the speaker or the president had to stand in the well of the chamber and defend their policy request like the prime minister has to? We might see that the emperor has no clothes. The obsession with fund-raising and lobbying needs to end.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    April 18, 2017 7:32 a.m.

    Most of these speeches don't really mean much to the constituents back and are largely wasted effort (and oftentimes not really very good speeches).

    People in Congress (and most of their constituents) have forgotten that half of their oath of office is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. In my mind, this is their most important duty.

    So, I, personally, would prefer my representatives to be reading the newspaper 90% of the time they are in Washington, as long as they vote down efforts to infringe on the Constitution and our individual rights found in the Amendments to the Constitution.

    Most of the hard work of forming "a more perfect union" was done more than 200 years ago. The most important role for people in Congress is to be caretakers of that gift given to the American people in 1787.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    April 18, 2017 6:48 a.m.

    I think the first order of business should be to have all members of Congress sign up for Obamacare. Make it mandatory! Too many cushy jobs. Let's get their attention! Healthcare would be worked on with diligence, and something produced in short time!

    Then, we need a new Speaker of the House who will work with our President! This needs to be done quickly so we can get things rolling. Our present Speaker is an obstacle in the House leadership!