Today, I saw a reelection advertisement for a Congressman who has been in power for decades. In the ad, he was in the woods hunting with some cronies (probably lobbyists…just my guess). It is interesting that during each election cycle, politicians scramble to look like the candidate most in touch with the American people. In television ads, they are rarely seen in a suit and tie. Instead, they shed their Washington garb and don a flannel shirt and a faded pair of blue jeans. They all scramble to look like the neighbor next door…just an average, ordinary American Joe.
In the spirit of supporting our elected Washington officials, I propose a new reality television show to help them remain in touch with their constituents. The show could be christened “Mr. Smith Goes to Boise” or “Ms. Smith Goes to New Orleans.” The particular city is not important.
The show’s basic premise is simple. It centers upon requiring a politician to spend thirty solid days with a constituent family living below the poverty level. While residing with the family, Mr. Congressman or Ms. Senator must live in the manner of their new pseudo relatives. All of the perks of D.C. must be left within the Beltway. No limo rides, but rather public transportation. No fine dining, but rather ordinary groceries purchased with food stamps, so on and so forth. If the contestant fails to remain with the family for the full thirty days, then he or she must return home in shame and forfeit his or her position of power.
They return to private life, which probably would mean a seven-figure income as a Washington lobbyist. Of course none of this will ever happen anyway. No politician in his or her right mind would volunteer for such an assignment, but the thought of it is fun nonetheless.
Seriously, it does seem that many of our elected officials are out-of-sync with mainstream America. Each of them could use a homegrown lesson in how ordinary Americans live out their daily lives. Just possibly, they might then introduce new legislation that could positively impact our society, instead of wasting their time inviting Stephen Colbert to testify about immigration. In fact, this is a perfect example of how Congress is out-of-touch with true America. Sure, Stephen Colbert is funny and popular, but his testimony before Congress was neither funny nor popular.
Bottom line, if our elected officials truly want to understand the pulse of American society, then they should spend their time speaking with real Americans instead of listening to the advice of comedians. Of course, one day a comedian, the next day a Senator. Don’t believe it? Just ask Senator Al Franken. What next, Senator Colbert?
On second thought, maybe the suggestion of a reality show starring politicians is not absurd after all.