Former Senator Olympia Snowe has just published a call for grass-roots action. She left the Senate last year because as a centrist she no longer felt useful. She decided she could do more to fix our broken politics from the outside.
"I want to build a groundswell of support and get the public to weigh in, because that’s the only way you’re going to alter the legislative landscape in Washington. Now I’m fighting in a different direction. I’m fighting on the outside.”
Snowe wants to get rid of the secret holds in the Senate that can allow a single Senator to stop a motion anonymously. Also she wants to eliminate Leadership PACS and to see more States adopt open primaries.
And she proposes that for 3 of 4 weeks each month Congress have a 5 day as opposed to 4 day work schedule.
"Isn't that amazing? To work a five-day workweek? Because what happens is that, you know, on Mondays — at least in the Senate — Monday night we'd have what you'd call a bed-check vote. Just to get, you know, the machinery of the Senate up and running so that we can start the committee process on Tuesday morning …
"By Thursday, you know, jet fumes, the smell of jet fumes. … Everybody's heading home, wanting to know when they can adjourn on Thursday so they can leave. [This] very short version of a workweek makes it very difficult to deal with complex issues. And basically they're not even getting the routine matters of business accomplished. We can't pass a budget, which is preposterous."
And if Congress fails to pass a budget, Congress no get paycheck. For my money, these proposals reflect just the sort of hard-nosed centrism we need. But good luck. Still, the ex-Senator does seem uniquely positioned: it will require an Olympian effort if any of these proposals stand more than a snow-ball's chance.
Fighting For Common Ground (website for her book)