DownsizeDC.org
April 20, 2006
A Story of the Future
By Perry Willis

Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . .

Congress cannot claim to be representing us if they don't know what's in the bills they pass. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, even for a Congressman.

Today, I want to encourage you, once again, to take action on the Read the Bills Act.

But the action I'm going to suggest will be a little different this time. If you want to send another message to Congress, please feel free to add to the 40,000 others we've already sent to Capitol Hill. Click here to send your message.

But we need to take things to a whole new level.

I have a dream. In my dream, Representatives are getting inundated with electronic messages, letters, faxes, and phone calls. It is almost routine to find some constituent in their office who is asking them, "Why won't you sponsor the Read the Bills Act?"

The constant pressure is annoying and they can't wait to get back home, away from Capitol Hill and the relentless pressure.

But things have become a nightmare back home too. As our imaginary Representative marches in a local parade, he sees a dozen citizens holding signs that read, "Congressman X, Why do you believe you don't need to read the laws you impose on me?"

As he visits local talk shows and editorial boards every host and reporter asks him, "Why do you believe you shouldn't be required to read the laws you pass?" And when he dodges the question he finds that he is pressed. The talk show hosts and the reporters are relentless. They won't let go.

Frustrated, he drives to his next campaign stop. On the way, he hears a radio ad saying, "Congress doesn't read the laws they pass ... visit DownsizeDC.org." The Congressman asks his driver to change the station, but before he arrives at the next event, he hears the ad again!

The Congressman is going to speak to a friendly crowd (most incumbents tend to steer clear of less than friendly crowds). But tonight is different. In the audience, dozens of people are wearing buttons that say, "Make Congress Read the Bills." He shudders. But he's a consummate professional, and so he delivers his canned speech. Then, they open up the mikes. Someone stands and asks, "Why do you believe you can pass laws that I must live by, when you haven't even read them?" The Congressman tugs at his tie. Is it getting hot in here?

Yes. It's getting hot in there, and it just gets hotter and hotter for the next hour as he is bombarded with question after question about the "Read the Bills Act." And none of his evasions seem to get him off the hook, and so . . .

He flees the event, returning to the seeming safety of his campaign headquarters. "How's it going?" he asks his campaign manager. Well, the folks working the phone banks keep getting asked where the Congressman stands on the "Read the Bills Act." The Congressman grimaces and says, "I'm going home. Call me if anyone wants to talk about something other than Read the Bills."

On the way home he sees a DownsizeDC.org bumper-sticker. He grumbles, "How did it ever get this bad? Being a Congressman was supposed to be fun. People were supposed to show me respect. I had all these plans for a brave new world."

The Congressman arrives home. There, he finds his wife watching TV. She doesn't even acknowledge that he's entered. "I'm home," says the legislator. His wife responds, "You know what I've been doing all day?" "Sure," he replies, "You've been out stumping. What was it? The school assembly this morning, the civic club at lunch... But at least you had time to get together with the girls to play cards, right?" "Yes," she says. The Congressman detects the condescending tone in his wife's voice. "So what's the matter?" he asks. "All day, Read the Bills. Schoolchildren want to know when you'll read the bills. It's all the civic club members could talk about. And our so-called friends, well, even they wanted to know how you could expect people to obey laws you haven't even read."

The Congressman slams down his briefcase, cusses to himself and heads for the "reading room" (maybe in your house you call it the sandbox, the water closet, or something else). He settles in and opens the paper. This headline catches his eye: "Grassroots group to assemble on Capitol Hill for the No Legislation Without Representation Conference." It's a story about an expected crowd of more than 2,000 people descending on Capitol Hill in just a few months to demand that Congress pass the Read the Bills Act. The Congressman can't even go to the bathroom in peace.

Unfortunately, this story is only a dream. But we're growing at DownsizeDC.org, so I fimrly believe this day will come. Increasingly, the question is less "if," but "when?" It's just a matter of time.

How much time? It depends.

First, we need to greatly increase our media penetration. I did nine interviews in February and 13 in March. I've done four so far this month, and another tonight (details in the P.S.). In May, I want to do 20 interviews, and even more in June.

And I'll make you this promise. If you can name the producer of a radio show, get his or her direct phone number and/or email address, and some other relevant data -- to fill out this form -- we'll try to book the interview. Sometimes, they don't call back after repeated calls. But we'll really try to get me on the show if you get us the right information.

Second, we've raised less than half of our necessary budget for the month of April, and we have only a third of the month to go. $14,000 not only pays the bills, but insures that we continue to grow and make progress.

I know that there are people reading this message who could pay the entire amount. We would be very grateful for that support. It would improve our focus on Congress, instead of our checkbook. There are others who could contribute $2,000 or $1,000 or $500. We've only had two donations in this range all month. Those amounts would really speed us to our goal.

If you can give $250, $100, or even the Spirit of $76, you would make a real difference. But ANY amount is helpful. If those amounts would create a strain, perhaps you could become a monthly pledger. Please consider pledging $25, $20, or $10 per month. You might not even miss the money, but it will add up to something substantial over the course of a year.

As I said, any amount is helpful. We have 21,600 subscribers on this list. If half of them gave $5, not only would we have enough for this month and the next, but we'd have some left over to get "the nightmare" started in a couple of Congressional districts -- maybe even yours. You can contribute here.

So here's how you can hasten "the nightmare" for Congress . . .

Send a message in support of RTBA by clicking here.

Add to our media database here.

Make a contribution or monthly pledge here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka President DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. I will be a guest on Free Talk Live tonight (Thursday) - now heard on more than a dozen stations in several states. I'll be on during the 7 PM hour (Eastern time), discussing the National Animal Identification Act, the Read the Bills Act, and who knows what else. It's always fun. To learn where the show airs, or to listen live online, visit www.freetalklive.com

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