by Jim Ash
A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Anderson as part of his vetting process described in his post On Vetting and Endorsing. Because I have no public voting record to scrutinize, he wanted to determine if I am intellectually capable of handling the job of a congressman.
After our meeting, and to Eric’s credit, I realized that I had grossly underestimated, or was possibly unaware of, the importance of understanding what the Constitution requires of, and limits to, the members of the House of Representatives. Prior to this realization, I believed what our nation needed was more good people in Congress, and that somehow, magically, if we elected more good people, our nation would be a better place, and Congress would be more efficient and effective in its duties. I considered myself a great candidate for San Diego’s 53rd District; most people think I am a good guy, fairly smart and experienced in the highs and lows of life. I am an SDSU graduate, and I have been a resident of many of the communities of the 53rd Congressional District over the last 20 years.
But thankfully, through Mr. Andersen’s vetting process, I was exposed to the critical responsibilities, and equally critical limitations, of a congressional representative. A congressperson’s job is not to merely be a good person who makes good decisions on behalf of his or her constituents. The good decisions were made several hundred years ago in 1787 when good men who knew good governing rules created the Constitution. The primary job of a member of the U.S. House of Representative is to ensure that the Constitution is being considered and protected where any legislation and any appropriations are concerned.
I must admit that when I realized the legitimate job description and the heavy responsibilities of a congressperson, I questioned if I still wanted to do the job and if I were capable of being a good congressman. I knew for sure that I didn’t want to get in to office and make things worse (we have enough people in Congress doing that already). But then I realized all I needed to do was filter every decision, every issue and every vote through the lens of the Constitution. If I rely on that foundation for my decision making, I know I will have done my job as it is designed.
If you are wondering how I will vote, what types of legislation I will propose and support, and how I will appropriate money, you need not look further than Article I (Section 8 primarily) of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments for your answer. I may be called naive, unrealistic, and idealistic for my approach to the job of a congressman, but I believe doing otherwise would only make me a contributor to the continued breakdown of our government that we are seeing today.