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  • Congress Funds Study on How To Avoid Constituents, Stay in Office

    This Friday, the tax payer funded Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) is hosting a briefing for Members of Congress and their staff on their new study: Online Town Hall Meetings: Exploring Democracy in the 21st Century. The CMF study consisted of 21 townhall meetings where Members of Congress and CMF provided a moderator: “spoke via voice over IP, and constituents asked questions and made comments by typing them. Only off-topic, redundant, unintelligible, or offensive questions were screened, and only questions asked by people who had not yet asked a question were prioritized.”

    CMF does not say what qualifies as offensive, but if this summer is any indication that definition would include anything that the Congressman did not want to talk about. In other words, this report urges Congressmen not to actually interact with their constituents, but to avoid them altogether by holding safe townhalls they can completely control. And what did CMF find where the results of these Potemkin townhalls?

    The online town halls increased constituents’ approval of the Member. Every Member involved experienced an increase in approval by the constituents who participated. The average net approval rating (approve minus disapprove) jumped from +29 before the session to +47 after. There were also similar increases in trust and perceptions of personal qualities – such as whether they were compassionate, hardworking, accessible, etc. – of the Member.

    The lesson: avoid your constituents’ inconvenient questions and your approval ratings will rise. And this is a taxpayer funded study. Here is the grant from the National Science Foundation.

    Congress is actually using your tax dollars to pay social scientists to find ways they can avoid actually talking to their constituents while improving their chances of reelection.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    26 Responses to Congress Funds Study on How To Avoid Constituents, Stay in Office

    1. Concerned says:

      Uggghhhh!!!! Afred E. Newman would be proud. I can imagine decades from now when this appears as a question on a game show. Hmmm, I guess there wouldn't be any live game shows – just online.

    2. RetCMS, Arizon says:

      The dates on the grant make it appear that the funding actually was assigned in 2004.

    3. Diane Winkler, Papil says:

      Wonder if they will have congress member's participation on C-Span? Is anyone surprised with this info? If so, he/she needs to get educated in reality. This is similar to the pay and benefits FORMER members get for life. I have challenged my reps to eliminate this waste. We will see.

    4. Ike, Birmingham, AL says:

      They have an excellent idea, but in 180 degrees the wrong direction.

      Bring them home permanently, and let them telecommute!


    5. Nelson Lee Walker, S says:

      The only infallible, unstoppable, guaranteed way to get a truly new Congress is :


      Voters must IMPOSE term limits by NEVER REELECTING INCUMBENTS , AND DO IT EVERY ELECTION! Don't let anyone serve more than one term. Some of the reasons to do this:

      • It gives us a one-term, term limited Congress without using amendments

      • It would be supported by 70% of the country who want term limits for Congress

      • It is completely non-partisan

      • If repeated, it ends career politicians dominating Congress

      • It opens the way to a “citizen Congress”

      • It ends the seniority system that keeps freshmen powerless

      • It doesn’t cost you any money. But you MUST vote! Just don’t vote for an incumbent

      • It is the only guaranteed, infallible, unstoppable way to “Throw ALL the Bums Out”

      • It takes effect immediately the day after Election Day

      • If it doesn’t work, do it again and again! It will work eventually, I promise.


      nelson lee walker of tenurecorrupts.com

    6. roger, newport beach says:

      This problem can be solved by the exercise our most precious of rights. Vote out (2010 is not that far away)all the incumbents and push for term limits with the newly elected. A clean sweep for America.

    7. Pingback: Congress Studying How To Aovid Its Constituents « The Divine Lamp

    8. Herb Vando, Orange B says:

      I agree with Nelson Lee Walker of Ca.

      What a great way to impose term limits. We MUST

      not re-elect anyone anymore. Washington will finally get the message. Career politicians are

      the cause of all the problems. Actually we are the cause of the problems by re-electing these

      self serving individuals. We always think of

      "our guy" as the good guy and point fingers at the other guys. It has to stop or we are doomed

      as a nation. Reject dont re-elect.

    9. Pingback: Congress Funds Study on How To Avoid Constituents, Stay in Office « Ramparts 360

    10. John McClain, GySgt, says:

      All of those advocating always electing fresh faces each and ever election, are echoing the founder's thoughts, as they described the only way for Citizens to retain Sovereignty over their government.

      The founders specifically intended to have only citizens in Congress and all other elected offices, and were horrified by the professional politician, as they had seen complicit in all the violations of their "natural rights" as British Subjects, but seen by the professionals, as "across the ocean, and too far away to matter in their opinion, and without any real vote".

      President Washington specified he would only serve one term, even though offered "Kingship", because he said it was the legitimate means of maintaining a Sovereign Citizerny, and only accepted the second term, when leaders of congress convinced him that not enough precedent for the proper work of a president had been set, and no one but he, was capable of properly setting it. The accolades from around the world, at his death, proved the correctness of their vision.

      Only when those in power must revert to citizens, and live under the laws they write, do they recognise they must make only such law as all can abide in good faith with. Since congress doesn't participate in Social Security, it was never funded. Since they don't participate in any health care of their own cost, they pay no attention to the cost of it to the rest of the Nation.

      Since we find it more convenient to vote for an incumbent, than to choose a well qualified neighbor, and turn out each and every one at every election, incumbents are for sale, where freshmen are never for sale to any fruitful purpose.

      We, The People, are responsible for keeping our federal government within the boundaries of the Constitution. Since we have failed to do so, we now have a central government instead of a federal government, and as a "central government", it no longer answers to us, and has become, by its acts, a Fascist government, by doing and performing such acts as only a fascist government will.

      It is not their fault we elected criminals into congress, it is our fault, for failing to be "Sovereign Citizens", noting we have both sovereignty, and the full responsibility of our Nation upon our shoulders. There can be no Authority over anything, without an equal amount of responsibility comensurate with the authority. We can delegate our authority, as we do when we elect representatives, however the responsibility remains on our own shoulders, and if we do not exercise it, we are not acting as sovereign, but as "subjects" of the government. If we choose to be such, we deserve the oppressive atmosphere we currently live in, and deserve it until the day we take up our natural responsibility, and fulfill it.

      We have the government we allowed to coalesce while we ignored their manifold crimes and violations of oaths, Constitution, and law, and held them as leaders, rather than as public servants, which are more appropriate for Sovereign Citizens, who by definition, are the leaders. If we wish our Confederated Republic, we shall have to remake it, by our own authority, with our own actions, against an entrenched professional class of politicians who like to be in charge, and have no desire to be servants. Until we do so, we gravitate ever towards totalitarianism. We have the government we have chosen by default.


      John McClain

      GySgt, USMC, ret.

      Vanceboro, NC

    11. Robin, Kentucky says:

      This is a non-partisan plan to replace the politicians. If enough people join, this could become a LEGITIMATE party.

      It makes sense.

      It's worth a look.

      "Get Out Of Our House" – http://www.goooh.com

    12. Jeff Bourget says:

      RETCMS has it right. Check out the date on that grant, it was awarded in 2004. If my memory serves, the Congress was run by Republicans then. Further, the trailer on this post says that comments are subject to approval and moderation. Seems that the Heritage Foundation approves of editing the discussion when they hold the forum.

    13. Vicky, Macon says:

      Thank-you GySgt McClain for your thoughtful cogent comments. Well put and I could not agree more.

    14. Pingback: Congress Used Taxpayer-Funded Study on How to Avoid Constituents « The Foxhole

    15. Charles Huddleston, says:

      There is a simple solution which will also reduce governmental spending.

      Create a selective service system to replace elections. representatives will be chosen by lot and should be treated like "draftees": low pay, constant supervision,one two-year term with no extension of service and no pensions. This will reduce costs, help eliminate corruption,and give constituents better control over their representatives. Our present system of allowing perpetual tenure to senators and representatives assumes that there is only an elite group of people in each district or state who are capable of representing their constituency. There is no question that the framers of our constitution

      did not intend that our representatives should be "career politicians", but should briefly serve their constituency and then return to their civilian lives. Clearly, our present system is not working. As a "drafted" veteran, I would have been glad to serve my country and my constituency in the manner mentioned above. I am also confident that I could do as good or better job than those now in office without 30 or 40 staff members to assist me.

    16. Ralph, Irving Tx says:

      I will never again vote for an incumbent at the national level. I will never again vote for "the lesser of two evils." They are corrupt to the core and do not understand the difference between a democracy and a republic.

    17. Clarence, Northern C says:

      Right on, Gunney! It's our, "The People's", fault that we have a malfunctioning government loaded with self-serving politicians. As I was told when I joined the Corps long ago, "from here on you pack your own gear!" Problem is today we have too many folks who would rather some one else "packed their gear". As long as they keep getting something for nothing they'll vote the deadbeats back in office over and over. The responsible citizens, those "packing the gear", have to wake up in order for things to change as the "takers" like things just as they are and, sad to say, their numbers are growing by leaps and bounds in this Country.

      Semper fi


    18. Pingback: Congress Funds Study on How To Avoid Constituents, Stay in Office

    19. L ,USA says:

      NO INCUMBANTS should be re elected demand paper ballots

    20. Dwayne says:

      We've been told for years by congressmen that they know what is best for the country. That we little folks don't know what is best for us, and that is why we need government. Well, if the congressmen can avoid confrontation, and can screen out those who disagree with them, of course their approval raitings will go up. Unfortunately, just because someone knows how to answer a questionaire on the computer, doesn't mean they have the intellengence to think in reality.

    21. Chris Van Herpe, Spa says:

      There has never been a better time for a "throw the bums out" movement. We must do it in 2010 and continue to do it to show the polititions who is really in charge of our great republic.

    22. Mike, Salt Point NY says:

      I have no problem with the topic of the study. I would not want my representative stuck in the past. I don't complain when I get a typed response instead of a hand written letter. That is my representative using the fruits of technology to efficiently communicate with their constituents. If there are advances in communications, I would want those new avenues explored.

      With that said, I do have a problem with how the technology can be applied. If my representative only holds these tele-townhalls, that spells trouble. If they only have in-person townhalls on non-hot button issues, and tele-townhalls on the important issues to allow them cover, that's a problem. We just have to be vigilant at keeping our reps. responsible to the people who put them in office.

      Technology and information are neutral. They can be used or abused. We just need to be sure that our reps are using it correctly, for our benefit, not solely for their re-election.

    23. Pingback: SayUncle » The little people

    24. bigyaz says:

      The writer of this item sounds like yet another technophobe who no doubt can't program his 1990s-era VCR. This grant is about using new technology to make it *easier* for legislators to connect with constituents, so they don't have to spend a lot of our time and money on airplane trips, etc.

      If a legislator chooses to abuse technology by screening out unwelcome questions, he or she could do that in person as well.

      Technology has made it possible for us to get information in ways we never could before. This is just another example. Sorry if the world is moving too fast for you.

    25. Pingback: News to Use « Hugoville

    26. Pingback: “How to Avoid Constituents”: A Study Funded by Congress « Just Americans Making Ethical Statements Weblog

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