Looking For a New Year’s Resolution? Police Your Congressional Representatives

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December 16, 2014 by Anders Ingemarson

Every other year we elect men and women to represent us in the United States Congress. Depending on our level of interest, we spend more or less time in the weeks and months leading up to the election trying to figure out what candidate best represents our interests. But after the first Tuesday in November, whether our candidate got elected or not, most of us tune out until the next election comes around.

While this is understandable given the barrage of ads, talking heads hysteria, and general information overload, tuning out may prove a costly mistake. We get the elected officials we deserve, and if we don’t police them, they are likely to stray from the narrow path of election promises that we expected them to stay on.

Here at SEPARATE! we consider it the job of our elected representatives to work to protect our individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by rolling back government to its bare Separate Not! essentials, the government 1, 2, 3:

A government’s one legitimate function is to protect our individual rights from two potential sources of rights violations, foreign enemies and our fellow men at home, using three institutions: the military, the police and the courts.

Everything else—all the Separate What? areas of the economy—must go, over time, with a realistic plan for each area allowing Americans to take charge of their own lives in an organized fashion.

We realize that in this day and age having such lofty standards is bound to set us up for disappointments. But setting the bar high is consistent with championing the moral case for separating state and the economy and it is the only way to inch us towards the goal one election at a time.

Fortunately, several organizations are trying to help us out by tracking voting records against some predetermined standard, resulting in a score and rank for each member of the House and Senate. These organizations don’t share our vision in every area, but their scorecards are definitely helpful in evaluating the performance of a particular congressional representative. Here are three examples:

  • Freedom Works “…identifies the most important votes on issues of economic freedom and scores Members of Congress based on their votes.”
  • The New American Freedom Index is “A Congressional Scorecard based on the U.S. Constitution [that] rates congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.”
  • The Heritage Action Scorecard “…measures votes, co-sponsorships, and other legislative activity to show how conservative Members of Congress are.”

Comparing the scorecards along party lines render similar results, despite the difference in focus and scope. Here are the ranges and, where available, averages by party for the 113th Congress through December 12 (before the bipartisan trillion dollar Cromnibus ran us over):

 

Democrats Republicans
House Avg Senate Avg House Avg Senate Avg
Freedom Works 0% – 56% NA 0% – 26% NA 31% – 100% NA 33% – 100% NA
New American Freedom Index 4% – 52% NA 0% – 20% NA 31% – 100% NA 48% – 88% NA
Heritage Action Scorecard 0% – 38% 12% 0% – 13% 3% 27% – 94% 62% 24% – 96% 64%

Looking at the results along party lines, it is no surprise that Democrats score lower than Republicans. The Left, being more consistently statist and anti-individual rights, takes every opportunity to vote for increased government infringement on our lives in the form of taxes and regulations. Given their dominant collectivist mindset, they are more inclined to rescind their potential personal disagreement on a particular issue for the benefit of the group, aka the party.

Republicans show a wider spread, which probably can be attributed to a slightly more individualist bent but also to the fact that the members represent a greater variety of views than is the case on the other side of the aisle.

While Republicans score better than Democrats, the Republican average in the low to mid sixties, and the  spread starting in the mid to upper twenties, is a clear indication that the party has a long way to go before it becomes the party of individualism and individual rights. Currently, the GOP can best be described as “collectivism light” with its members frequently voting to implement new or renew existing rights violating legislation, only with a little less impact than those voted for by the Left.

Hence the importance of not losing sight of our congressional representatives between elections. If you’re looking for an activist New Year’s resolution, what better choice than policing their voting records? Send them a note of encouragement when their vote is consistent with protecting our individual rights, and a reprimand when it’s not.

Too much work? Try Heritage’s Watchlist which allows you to specify the representatives you want to follow and contact them in an easy fashion. It’s easier than you think.

Happy Policing New Year!

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