District 1: CO-2

The Colorado-2nd

I’ve been waiting to write this post for quite some time. Waiting until I had the financial security to embark on this project. Waiting until I had enough followers to make it worthwhile. Waiting until I had just the right message. I don’t have any of those things but it’s time to stop waiting.

The podcast, 435 Voices, which will launch in about a month, will feature a pair of people, often journalists, talking about the issues that actually matter in each congressional district. But what should I write about after visiting the district itself, particularly if the visit precedes the podcast as it often will?

Well, I’m not going to bother with things you could just as well learn on Wikipedia from people more informed than I. There are nice entries for Boulder, Fort Collins and pretty much every town in the Colorado-2nd.

I’m also determined not to write a book about every district. You don’t have time to read it, I don’t have time to write it and even if we both found the time there are too many districts to keep up the necessary momentum to get us to Election Day 2020.

But when my son Alistair and I set off from Denver on Thursday morning I tried to give him a framework to do his part in helping me chronicle our experience. I asked him to take his best guess at three things as we spent a day in the district.

  1. Where do you think people in this district work?
  2. What do you think they do for fun?
  3. What do you think they would change about this area if they could?

Alistair’s guesses and my own were not too different. But before I get to those, just a bit about what we did. We picked up our rental car for the next 10 days in the Denver suburb of Arvada on Thursday morning. We are outfitted in a Nissan Rouge, not quite the Escalade my son was pulling for but a more manageable size in my book. We headed northwest for the 30 minute drive to Boulder, stopping off in a Super Target just across the border of the 2nd district in Superior for the rest of the camping supplies we will need on our trip this summer.

Once in Boulder we spent most of the afternoon walking around the campus at the University of Colorado. It is a large beautiful campus where Alistair found a whole colony of large turtles and Koi swimming in a pond (pictures link forthcoming as soon as I figure out some efficient way to post them). We walked down to downtown Boulder and had some lunch then searched quite some time for a copy of the local paper, the Daily Camera. The difficulty we had in finding it is worth some discussion in a future post.

Then came a moment of decision. We had reservations at Chambers Lake campground in the Roosevelt National Forest, it would have given us a nice circle route through the part of the Rockies that is in the 2nd district and set us on our way toward Fort Collins for Friday morning. But the forecast, 80 percent chance for thunderstorms and lows in the 40s on the first night of a multi-night camping trip caused us to opted to out of the mountains and head for Fort Collins.  The decision was made easier by the fact that our family went through Estes Park and camped at Grand Lake three years ago and, the fact is, most of the population in this district lives in the strip of land in the eastern foothills of the Rockies between Boulder and Fort Collins.

Which brings me to our observations. Alistair’s guess about where the residents of the 2nd district work was in the seemingly endless string of shopping centers and chain restaurants that stretch along the main highways between Denver and Boulder and then again between Boulder and Fort Collins. Certainly many do work there. But when I offered a guess that many of these folks commute into Denver everyday he agreed. There were at least 25 checkout lines at the Super Target we stopped at, only two were staffed – more on that another time.

As for fun, Alistair’s first guess was shopping, which is pretty funny, but when I pointed to the ever present (though cloudy on this day) mountains to our left he said skiing, hiking and swimming. Probably not too far off.

As for what these residents might change if they could, he said they might make it more scenic. I was tempted to get into a dissertation on the topic of irony but he would have checked out before I got very far. A good part of the Colorado 2nd is undeniably some of the most beautiful (and scenic) landscape our nation has to offer. But the parts we drove through on this day, the parts near where most of the almost 800,000 people live, only hinted at that scenery. I’ll bet infrastructure that gets them to work in Denver and back and into those mountains and back with as little disruption to the environment as possible would be high on the wish list. The Colorado 2nd edition of 435 Voices is coming up in October, I’ll try to find out.

Oh, and an addendum before I forget. I think it goes without saying but I’ll say it once just in case. This is designed to be an outsider’s impression of the district and an impression based on an unfortunately short amount of time. If you live or have lived in the CO-2 please let us know which outcomes (not issues) matter most to you in the 2020 election cycle. The comments box is just below. Thanks!

On a Journey to Find America

The Journey to Find America began last night. My 11-year old son Alistair and I got on the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited in Albany, NY last night and rode it to Chicago where we changed to the California Zephyr train bound for Denver today.

This trip has been awhile in the making. When I learned that the Human Capital Institute’s conference on Employee Engagement would be held in Denver again this summer, heard Alistair express a clear preference to spend as little time in summer camps as possible during his summer break and learned that my wife Elizabeth’s vacation time was nearing an end, I began plotting this trip.

This afternoon we are sitting in the observation car on the train. We’ve not even crossed the Mississippi into Iowa yet but already the immensity of the Midwest has impressed both of us. It’s a big country and getting to 435 congressional districts across it in the next 15 months seems more daunting sitting here than it did at my desk in Vermont. In particular, I’m wondering if and how I can really begin to change the way we communicate, both in the media and as individuals, about governmental policy.

But even as I worry about this, I find reassurance that when we visit our first district in this endeavor, Thursday in the Colorado 2nd, I will find the right message.

Almost 30 years ago a friend and I embarked on a similarly large travel odyssey. How could it be similarly large to planning to travel to 435 congressional districts? We aimed to visit all 178 professional baseball parks for a game in one season. More than 40 states and several Canadian provinces later we succeeded. During that summer we were asked many times why we were doing it and almost always the answer was…to find out what was different about all these places.

In truth, what we found was a lot of similar people. There were quirky differences in the ballparks (way more than there are in minor league baseball today) and different wacky promotions and regional food but the people were the same. I think they still are.

Watching the news on any given night you are likely to wonder, what happened to this country? Why are we so angry with each other? What could possibly bring us back together? But actually I don’t think we are that far apart as Americans. I think we mostly want similar things and have similar values. So this time around I am out to find commonalities not differences; when Alistair and I hit the road on Thursday to make the long journey back to Vermont through at least ten districts that’s exactly what we will be looking for.

Sitting on My Hands

How does a blog that purports to be about making government better, meaning more effective, not weigh in on what has to be one of the saddest periods in our government’s history? That is the question that has been vexing me since I saw President Trump’s latest round of tweets and all the follow up to them in the last few days. 

trump omar

But I haven’t known what to say, frankly, and thus I’ve been sitting on my hands. There is nothing I can write in this blog that hasn’t been written by others in publications with many more followers.

For the record, I do not think that the President of the United States should  be carrying on personal and vindictive attacks against members of Congress. I also don’t think it is helpful when members of Congress attack the President and each other in a personal way and I think there is plenty of evidence that members of both political parties have done this frequently and are doing it even as I write this. That breaks my heart and, to be candid, tests my resolve as I prepare myself to spend the next several months trying to convince members of Congress to do the exact opposite of what they are now doing.

But here’s what gives me hope. I am traveling on business today just a few miles from the district of one of the congresswomen under attack by the President. I talked with dozens of people over the course of the day and do you know how many were talking about this? None. Do they have opinions? Probably. Are they worried about what this in-fighting means to the principles of a democratic government? I hope so. But I am assuming that many of them, like me, were just getting their job done and wondering when will this end?

I am hopeful and optimistic the name calling will dry up when we stop paying attention to it and feeding the fire. It strikes me that, collectively, many of us are acting like the parents that scream to their children (analogy is intentional) “I told you not to use that fu*#in language in the house.”

So, let us instead focus on solutions to the policy challenges and questions we all face as Americans and encourage our media outlets to do the same. How do we put more money in the bank account of every American? How do we make healthcare more affordable? How do we ensure that our kids and the legions of other citizens who are currently unprepared for the jobs of the future get prepared? Let’s talk about that. There’s plenty of time to tell the candidates how we really feel at the polls on November 3, 2020.

We’re Hiring!

Currently interviewing for 435 positions in the House of Representatives. You will represent your congressional district by helping to put in place legislation that will aim at improving the lives of each of your 710,000 constituents.

  • Must possess good collaboration skills, be able to reach consensus and take action
  • Must come prepared with specific and measurable ideas on how you will represent all the people in your district including a strategy for working with colleagues with different ideas about how to help them
  • A track record of learning from past experience, assimilating new information and changing a previous position considered a plus
  • Ideologues strongly discouraged; must be able to look past political parties to weigh the merits on both sides of each issue before you
  • Experience helpful but not necessary. We will train the right individual
  • Finger pointers and whiners need not apply. Evidence of engaging in obstructionist politics will be considered a serious liability

Interviews will be conducted over the next 16 months for a two-year appointment starting in January 2021. The hiring committee is quite large and will make its decision based on observable demonstration of the competencies listed above.

To join the hiring committee please see findamerica.org and follow this blog!

Fingers Crossed

As I was wrapping up my last post (below) on this site, more than two and a half years ago, I said that maybe I would try again someday “with a better approach.” I think that time has come.

I’ve put together a prezi presentation at the link below that describes where Project to Find America is headed. As we prepare for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, I hope you will take a few minutes to go through it.

prezi overview


There will be a new structure to the site and a bunch more detail coming in the next week. In the meantime, suffice it to say…

We’re back

Time to Say Goodnight…For Now

It’s a funny thing about Facebook, though as I think about it  – almost certainly not an accident.  You get these update e-mails when the person you sleep next to every night or a random business acquaintance from eight years ago says something on the site. In the spirit of preserving what’s left of my information-addled brain I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring the latter (although I’m not as successful at getting changes to my notification settings to stick) but I tend to pay attention to the former.

So I got this e-mail yesterday that said “Elizabeth Clark Craib (aforementioned co-sleeper) updated her status…Need someone other than Bill who….”

What? Travels too much? Snores too much? Looks less and less like Brad Pitt?

And this is the funny part, it’s where they get Ya. You can’t read the rest of it in your e-mail – you have to  click through to the site and, not surprisingly to my mind, I wanted to find out what my wife needed someone other than me… for.

As it turned out, she wanted someone else to reassure her (after acknowledging that I was trying my best) that the results of tomorrow’s Presidential election won’t end the world as we know it (paraphrasing here.) Relieved that she wasn’t looking for something else and comforted that she hadn’t gone to Facebook to find it, I went back to packing for a business trip. But, as I was  staring out the window on a  five-hour bus trip to New York, I began thinking about how successfully I’ve convinced my wife that our world isn’t “going to hell in a hand basket.” On one level, I think I’ve done pretty well; I’ve at least convinced myself. I don’t think Wednesday is going to feel much different than Tuesday, regardless of who wins the election. March 2017 may not feel much different than January either. But at another level, I’m very afraid that our country is on the brink of, or already well en route to, a long slow decline that will spell the end of the golden age of our civilization.

That’s pretty depressing stuff and frankly, not all that different than what you can read on any of thousands of Internet comment threads of one form or another tonight. But know this about my version, if you don’t already- it comes from a place of unabashed and unconditional love for this, most amazing of political experiments- the United States of America.

liberty I spent the last two hours walking downtown from the place where I was teaching my class today in Midtown Manhattan to my hotel in Battery Park. It was a gorgeous fall evening and walking down past the luxe stores of Fifth Avenue to Washington Square in Greenwich Village I could look up occasionally and see the Liberty Tower and be moved (to the point of tears as I write this) by the amazing strength and resilience of the American spirit.  I’ve traveled our beautiful country from coast to coast more times than I can easily count and wondered long before I ever heard the term flyover states why anyone would choose to fly between those amazing coasts if they could drive (or take the train, or bike.. or walk!)

So if your response to this is..”we’ve still got it better than anyone else in the world,” then I believe you are right. But here’s the thing-  two years ago I wrote this long treatise on some fundamental challenges we have as a nation and I can’t think of a single one that has gotten any better in those two years, or the two years before that, or the four before that, or the eight before that.  If you’ve already read Finding America you probably off-airremember it, for sheer verbosity if nothing else. If not, you’ll get the gist in the first few pages.

But I think it’s time for me to stop tilting at this particular windmill at this particular
time. My blog has not made much of an impact, I’m sorry to say. I’d like to think I’ll try again sometime armed with a better approach but in the meantime I have three asks of you for the days and months ahead and I hope you will consider them.

First – Vote tomorrow! At times people will say voting is a privilege. Bullshit. It is a responsibility – it’s part of living in this country as an American citizen. You need to choose the person you think is the best of the two viable choices we have to lead this country for the next four years. So if you, in your heart of hearts, believe that Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is the right person to be the next President of the United States then have at it –cajole your friends, press the button, pull the lever, fill in the box – whatever you’ve got –and try to put them into office. But if your vote is some kind of statement, or you are going to make a statement by writing in someone else (I’m looking at you Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz fans) or worst by not voting at all, then save your statement for the next election cycle when there will be plenty of opportunities to really get out there and do something. Making a statement at the polls is like a righty suddenly swinging lefty when they are behind 19-0 in the first inning. They want to take the sting out of their futility by poking fun at it, but really it’s all about them and that’s not fair to their teammates or their opponents.

Second – take a hard look, as hard a look as you can before you cast your ballot – at the person you are going to vote for in the House and, if one of your senators is up for reelection as odds are they will be, the Senate and ask yourself this question – Is this person going to contribute to a meaningful dialogue and COMPROMISE on issues of importance –  or are they going to revert back to rhetoric (of any flavor,) which will be another way of saying  – watch as another two years of nothing happens in Congress.  If your candidate has been spending more time in this cycle talking about what they aren’t going to do than what they are – chances are they are the latter. If there’s another option – choose it. If not – start now and find one for 2018.

Finally, demand more from yourself…blah blah blah, I know – I’m about to lose you but I’m almost done so hold on. We need better sources of news about what’s going on in politics to make informed decisions at the polls. The toughest issues being debated in Washington at any given time are complicated, with compelling arguments on both sides, so if your news source is making it sound like there is only one side of the story that makes any sense then it’s time to call BS. Find yourself a source for news that isn’t all bluster and bravado and people’s opinions but is instead about fact…and support it.  First and foremost by watching or reading (even if it’s.. gasp…boring or difficult) but also by subscribing or donating; it is hard to imagine many things better to spend a few dollars on than an objective source of news.

So that’s it folks. If you have read my rants on Project to Find America – you have my sincere thanks. If they have been any use to you, I am deeply and humbly satisfied. Godspeed tomorrow.

May God (continue to) Bless the United States of America


Wishes for the Holidays from the Empire Builder

Where it all Began

As I start writing on this Friday morning in early December, I am sitting somewhat awkwardly sideways so that I can look out my bedroom window at the Mississippi River rolling by while I peck away at the keyboard. It is a lovely, though seasonal morning and I would like to take a walk out there in the sunshine. But I don’t live in New Orleans or Memphis or Minneapolis,  I don’t even live in Winona, Minnesota – though that is the town outside my window. I am on board Amtrak’s Empire Builder on the third and final day of a 2,255 mile journey from Portland, Oregon to Chicago. It is the second time in my life I’ve completed this trip. The first time I was in high school. Right after my dad died, my mother and I went on a four -week long cross country trip, almost all by train and rode from Chicago to Seattle on this train. A bit more on how that experience changed my life later on.


The Eastbound Empire Builder in Montana’s Glacier NP

What strikes me as I think about my second time riding this train and my second time on a multi-day train trip in the last month is how…umm…unusual this makes me. And though my self esteem is just fine, thanks – I don’t really mean unusual in a patting-myself-on-the-back kind of way. I mean it in a quirky – maybe a little weird kind of way. Though hundreds of people ride this train every day – only a fraction ride it from the start to finish and most all of those fall into one of three categories.

There are the train buffs. One guy I met knew the names of the dispatchers in the different towns we were passing through because he’s been listening to them on his shortwave radio –  ummm okay – that’s…cool. Another guy has a replica of the original Great Northern Railway Empire Builder train…not one car – the whole train…  in his model train set at home– nice.

There is also the “flying is unsafe – I prefer to be right here on the ground” crowd I will meet sometimes on these long train routes. I truly loathe flying but I’m not particularly concerned for my safety  -it is purely a matter of inconvenience and discomfort. In fact, as I lay in my bed last night every now and then I’ d wonder – are we going too fast going around this turn and I’d think back to recent Amtrak crashes and our aging national infrastructure. Conversely, my biggest worry on most planes is that my bags won’t fit, which is a pretty frequent occurrence for those of us with no particular airline status.

Finally, and this group is most similar to me in more ways than one – you have older retired people – usually but not always couples. They are going to visit kids or grandkids and they aren’t in any particular hurry so they decide to ride the train. For some these trips are bucket list items, for others they are a fairly regular occurrence. Among the three groups  – I have the most in common with these people. They look out the window a lot. I do too – and they seem pleased by that, which for many people would make this trip torture – there truly isn’t a whole lot to do. – I dig that too.

But there’s a difference for me. For one, I’m not retired and I’m often in a hurry when I’m traveling, mostly to get home.  Beyond that, though, when these folks stare out the window they seem just fine with whatever happens by (and there is a lot – both beautiful and quite ugly.) But I’m looking for something on these trips and it is often hard to figure out exactly what it is. I look for it out the window for miles and miles and I look for it in my mind’s eye as I stare out at brown fields and endless forests. I even look for it in my conversations with fellow passengers. I am far from an extrovert but I enjoy talking with complete strangers on the train and the family-seating style of the dining car provides an easy way to strike up conversation. What I’m looking for, I think, is a sign. A sign that the amazing country I became smitten with on that first cross country train trip with my mom (and earlier trips with my family) and really came to know and fall in love with during two season-long baseball-centered roadtrips as a younger man is still out here. That it is still beautiful, still wild, still varied and diverse and still populated, mostly, by a resourceful, persistent people with big hearts and big dreams.

Sometimes I find it. Glacier National Park on an early winter’s morning was take-your-breath-away spectacular. I have been looking forward to this portion of the trip since I booked it and it did not disappoint. In a more understated way, the lights going on in the farmhouses and ranches of eastern Montana as the day drew to a close yesterday and all the way down from Minneapolis to Wisconsin this morning the view from my bedroom window was compelling both because of the beauty of the river and the industriousness required to build up all the little towns along the route each with their own histories.

But sometimes the sign is more elusive and the search for it more discouraging. As lunch drew to a close yesterday a woman came up to the front of the car to the table next to mine to make change with the attendant. As she looked at the ten dollar bill she had pulled out she read off a note scribbled on it, “Bernie Sanders for President,” she read from it aloud. The attendant regarded her and said, “you know, I like a lot of what he’s saying – I’m just worried about who is going to pay for it.”

His voice, though, didn’t seem like he likes a lot of what Sanders is saying and I turned from my view out the window to see his expression. As I did, I was thinking a bunch of things – Sanders has made pretty clear how he intends to pay for his programs and higher taxes for dining car attendants unless they also run multinational corporations hasn’t been on the list. I’m also recalling that John F. Kennedy didn’t say, “We’re going to put a man on the moon…if we can get a good interest rate on spacesuits.”

But instead of voicing any of those things I made an attempt at humor. “What about Mark Zuckerberg,” I offered, joking – since he’s just publicly pledged to give away 99 percent of his $45 billion in net worth over the course of his lifetime.  “Nahh – he’s just doing that for a tax break,” said the unimpressed attendant – . I turned, and resumed my search out the window and out to the horizon.

Anyone who has read this blog over the last weeks and months knows that I’ve been blaming Congress for the things wrong with this country and imploring anyone who will listen to be more selective in  choosing our representatives in next year’s 2016 election and beyond.  I believe we need representatives who will compromise, work for the public good instead of special interests and fundamentally care a lot more about the happiness and well being of all of their constituents. I still believe those things. But maybe I’ve had it wrong. Maybe it’s not Congress that’s letting us down, or at least not any more than any other group of 535 people. Maybe it’s all of us. Maybe the problem with America…is Americans.

A Wish for the Holidays

That’s a pretty bleak viewpoint for a Friday afternoon as we approach the holiday season. Within a couple of hours I will be with my family after being away for a week and we’re all visiting good and old friends in Chicago. A fun weekend is ahead for me and I hope it is for you too.

And here’s a silver lining for you. If we have become a negative, cynical and distrusting society we surely did it to ourselves and we can change it back. In the weeks ahead let’s try consciously being

  • Open Minded instead of Dogmatic
  • Positive instead of Snarky
  • Hopeful instead of Cynical
  • Trusting instead of Suspicious

And if you have any little ones in your lives you can get help from them on this last one…Let’s believe this holiday season and hope that belief becomes a belief in each other that carries us into 2016 and beyond. I believe the signs are still out there. Here’s to hoping we find them.


Questions Left Unasked

A Look Back then Marching On

A few thoughts about last night’s Democratic primary debate on CNN and then back to Congress where the future successes or failures of all the candidates on both sides will likely be determined.

First – this debate was an improvement on multiple levels from the most recent Republican version. Unlike that event, which for most of the evening made me feel like we were listening in on a conversation taking place in the 7th Grade girls bathroom, this debate actually covered…wait for it…issues. Serious conversation took place on financial regulation, social security, gun laws, energy independence and several other topics all without anyone calling another candidate names or dropping in sexist or racist innuendo. There is hope that the words politician and grownup are not mutually exclusive.

dem debate

Second – Anderson Cooper’s questions were an improvement on Jake Tapper’s. Although the network persisted in trying to frame the debate as some kind of boxing showdown between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (strange visual on that…right?) the questions mostly got to the issues that ought to be debated as there are significant policy differences between the two Democratic front runners (as outlined in The Atlantic this morning.) Bernie Sanders got the most applause of the evening (and I will say my own as well) for shutting down the invitation from Cooper to get into the muck of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, which will make zero difference to anyone in the months and years ahead and instead redirecting the conversation toward income inequality.

Third – Like most debates this event was light on specifics. I found myself wondering exactly how Bernie wants to pay for everyone to go to college and whether his math adds up. I also wanted to know more about Hillary’s approach to lowering healthcare costs; the “we aren’t Denmark” line was effective but a “We’re #1 because we are America” approach hasn’t seemed to work too well in practice. I also wanted to hear more about Martin O’Malley’s plan for clean energy independence by 2050 – a worthy goal…how? But to be fair there is no way to get into specifics in 60 seconds. It is up to us to read what we can and ask questions early and often where there appear to be gaps. Here are each of the five candidates Web sites.

Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders

Martin O’Malley

Lincoln Chafee

Jim Webb

Last though are a couple of questions that weren’t asked but I wish had been:

For Hillary Clinton – you have aligned yourself pretty closely with much of the work of the Obama administration and blame partisanship in Congress, probably rightly,  for the inability to get more done in the last seven years – what would you do differently than the President has done to work with a Republican-controlled Congress should that majority be preserved? Why will it work for you?

For Bernie Sanders – You have campaigned on the idea that we need a revolution in domestic policy and that many parts of our political process are broken – it is hard to disagree. But what if the people don’t turn out next November any more than they have in past elections and we end up with the same kind of Congress we have today. Do you think you could pass any of the sweeping kinds of programs you are campaigning on? Why and How?

Huzzahs to No Labels

If you are off on this beautiful Columbus Day

It is a gorgeous fall day in Northern New England on this Columbus Day. If it is as nice where you are and you happen to be off work then you will want to get outside. But when you come in watch this. It is a video of a conference happening today. It is being produced by an organization called No Labels and in a news landscape that gets a bit more depressing every day it offers a glimmer of hope for bipartisanship in the 2016 election cycle. Columbus Day in VT

The conference, which is streaming live on the Web from Manchester, NH features participants across the political spectrum from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump (eight presidential candidates in all) The theme is non partisan progress and a conference focused on cooperation and compromise is like a breath of fresh autumn air. Take a look and let me know what you think.

I Was Gone but now I’m Back

Catching Up

Hi there, it’s been awhile. More than a month, in fact, and you might have been forgiven for thinking that was the end of Project to Find America. Somewhere out there on the Web, I’m sure, is a detailed analysis of how blogs die and not posting for a month is probably right up there on the list, usually explained by getting a new job, or a new girlfriend or boyfriend or a newly-found fixation with daytime television.


But these things don’t really apply here. I am  still talking about and teaching individuals and companies about the importance of Human Capital, still happily married to my Lovely wife and not yet transfixed by the Young and the Restless except those that are on C-Span. Truth be told, I’ve been busy keeping the lights on – and in the meantime I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to make a difference in an election cycle that’s now just over 13 months away.

On the Road Part One

In the last few weeks  I have been to: San Francisco, Columbus, Ohio, Upstate New York, Denver, Chicago (twice) and Washington.  I’ve talked with lots of people about what we’ve been working on here and the vast majority of them have been encouraging; there is a greater sense of discontent with the political status quo than I remember at any time in my life.  When I mention in my “elevator pitch,” as I almost

What are the questions in the CA-12? Stay Tuned

What are the questions in the CA-12? Stay Tuned

always do, that the goal of PFA is to reduce the level of partisanship in Congress they seem to get it. Heads nod in a way they almost never do in a political discussion. People are generally sick and tired of politicians blaming the other guy, reducing issues to a series of scripted rhetoric instead of specifics and accomplishing nothing.

The only part I’m not sure is getting across…yet, is that it isn’t me that is going to change this – it’s us. All of us, and it won’t be enough just to wait a year and “vote the  bums out” (remember – we returned 95 percent of the most ineffective Congress in history to Washington in the last midterm election despite the fact that their approval rating was barely above zero .) Without changing the discussion in the months leading up to the 2016 election we would just replace them with a less experienced replica of themselves or a polarized mirror image. From Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump, whether things get better in this country in the years up to 2020 has a lot more to do with the 470 or so seats in Congress that will be decided on November 6, 2016 then who wins the Presidency that day. Don’t believe me? See Exhibit A: Barack Obama and Exhibit B: George W. Bush.


A fair question. In fact, since a large part of what I’m advocating is that we ask politicians to very specifically spell out how they plan to solve challenges, it seems quite appropriate to ask me. So here goes.

  1. Find out who your Congressman is. It’s easy – it will take you two minutes at this site. It will open in another window. Maybe you already know who your rep is but humor me – at the very least you will find out what # your district is (MA-6, CA-53,) which almost no one can remember since it often changes, and in the months ahead we will refer to those district numbers a lot.
  2. Use the “contact me” link on your Representative’s site (you will find this on the site above too – generally it is the rep’s last name dot house dot gov) to ask them specific questions about the issues you care about. You think I’m crazy but that’s why these links are there. Your rep cares more about what’s on your mind than you think. Is it a college intern reading it? Maybe, perhaps probably. So what…enough questions on a topic and it will be passed up to the Congressman or Congresswoman. Which issues? You will have to decide here. It is not my mission to tell you what to care about, on the contrary – getting you to decide and act is. But if you like any or all of these – feel free to use them:
    1. Adjusted for inflation, the Median Household Income is lower today than it was 30 years ago. What can you and Congress do to help reverse this trend and increase wages for the average American? Why hasn’t it happened already?
    2. Are you in favor of repealing or modifying the Affordable Care Act. If you are in favor of repealing it, what approach would you use to reduce healthcare costs for the average American? Are there other countries using this approach? If you are in favor of modifying the ACA – how – and how will these modifications work better to lower healthcare costs?
    3. This week’s tragic shooting in Oregon was the 295th incident this year in which four or more people were shot and injured or killed. There have only been 277 days. What do you propose Congress can do in terms of legislation to reverse this trend?
  3. Find your local media outlets on the Web (a simple Google search for television and or newspaper and your town should do it) and use their contact page to encourage them to ask the same questions. Certainly when Congressmen engage in buffoonery it is tempting to cover it but what we really all need is more substantive coverage of how they are actually legislating…or aren’t. The only way we will get this is by demanding that our local media outlets deliver it or find ones that will.

That’s it for today. I am hopeful of getting to many if not all the districts between now and Election Day 2016  and finding out the questions on people’s minds. Tomorrow we’ll start with some of the places I’ve been recently.

If you’ve got a Sunday of football watching (or baseball – it’s the last day of the regular season after all) on tap enjoy it all (or a beautiful fall day for those here in VT) but send out some questions during the commercials!