There should be a law making it a misdemeanor for one to have achieved nothing – or next to nothing – for the benefit of a constituency while enjoying the title, benefits, and honor of a public office.
Winning an election – and then basking in the glory of the title and honor of the post – is the primary and only goal of many a candidate for public office. Serving the people in any way is a collateral aim, if at all. Once elected, the candidate’s primary objective is achieved, and all that needs to be done is parade around with the title that’s been won, serve out the term of office and – worse of all – seek reelection.
According to a Washington Examiner story dated 9/29/2014, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) missed 93% of her meetings on the House Energy & Commerce Committee; Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) failed to show up for 69% of the time for her House Committee on Financial Services meetings; Rep. James Cooper (D-Tenn.) did not attend 91% of his House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee meetings; and Alaska’s only representative to the House, Don Young, was absent for 73% of his House committee meetings.
Bernie Sanders had served as a Vermont congressman for sixteen years when he was elected to the US senate in 2006. He was reelected to the senate in 2012. In all his 25 years as a legislator, Sanders could not point to or name anything that he could claim as an “achievement.” All he has been known for are his “criticisms” of US foreign policy and his “status” as a self-described “democratic socialist.” An Independent for almost his entire political career, Sanders joined the Democratic Party early this year – only because he’s running for president.
To show that this malady is a worldwide problem, Philippine high school dropout and boxer-singer-actor-comedian Manny Pacquiao capitalized on his popularity as a world boxing champion to win election and unseat a veteran congressman. In one of his eight years as a Philippine congressman, Pacquiao showed up only four times (on four different dates) at the Philippine House of Representatives building and session hall! He has not introduced a single bill that has gained consideration and has failed to attend most meetings of House committees to which he has been assigned.
Pacquiao is now a candidate for a seat in the Philippine senate – because he wants to be known as a senator.
The fact that some politicians make a hobby of holding public office does not seem to bother their conscience or concern their constituents.
It is unethical and should be illegal for one to hold public office without fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of that office. It could be very well said that if an official takes advantage of his title and the honor the title brings for pure personal satisfaction that official is guilty of an ethics violation.
An elected public official should do things in the furtherance of their official duties. Aside from regularly attending legislative sessions and voting on proposed legislation, an elected member of congress should introduce bills, help their constituents solve problems, represent the best interests of their district and constituency, and take position(s) on and make statements regarding issues and events that affect their constituency. In addition, an elected public official should maintain contact with their constituency through visits and meetings with the view of obtaining consensus.