In today’s political arena, it is tempting to vote for candidates with the best slogan. But perhaps, we could build a better Congress if we voted for leaders who delivered results.
Every two years, ineffective members of Congress are re-elected to their positions – sometimes effortlessly. And while this year voter turnout surpassed previous highs [i], simply just turning out to vote does not exhaust the extent of our civic duties. Robust civic engagement demands that we do our due diligence before we step in the booth.
This requires voting for the individual who does not just represent our values, but the one who can deliver meaningful results through policy. Congress is a complex institution filled with longstanding norms, rules and traditions. Therefore, in order to see results, we need to choose candidates who have the potential or demonstrated capacity to maneuver these complexities.
But in the heat of campaigns and polarized media, recognizing potential legislative effectiveness can be difficult. However, it’s not impossible – we just have to ask the right questions.
Below, the Center for Effective Lawmaking has identified three key questions that you should ask your elected official or members of their staff the next time you speak with them:
- Have you shown and demonstrated a commitment to bipartisanship?
- How do you plan on executing a legislative agenda that is tailored to the needs of our district?
- How many pieces of legislation have you successfully ushered through the legislative process?
These questions are based off what the CEL has identified as habits of highly effective lawmakers. In particular, question three is the most important because it gets to the heart of the matter: Has my elected official delivered results?
We’ve all heard a Congressman talk about the bills they’ve introduced or cosponsored. But if your representative has not used their skillset to make those ideas into a reality, then there could be a better candidate out there.
The burden is upon us as voters to nudge policymakers to act in the manner we want them to. A recent Gallup poll found that roughly one in five Americans approves of Congress’s job performance.[ii] Most Americans are tired of the gridlock and the only way we can break through it is if we the voters elect people who can deliver and not just talk.
The issues facing our country, whether it be rising healthcare costs or the solvency of social security, have grave implications for all Americans if left unsolved.
Acts of partisanship, symbolic gestures and political demonization will not solve these problems. But evidence-based bipartisan policymaking can. If we the voters, irrespective of party, can rally behind candidates who value solutions and results, perhaps we can begin to see a more effective Congress that works for us – the people.