Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Tipping Point for Renewal

Independents and Congressional action.

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Two of the frequently asked questions I get are: "With our Congress as dysfunctional as it is, why do you want to become part of it?" and "Will more independents in Congress help in getting bills passed?"

Both are good questions. The key word in each is "dysfunctional" and "help". One aspect of my professional career that I've truly enjoyed is helping dysfunctional organizations focus on issues and goals in order to move forward. The job requires honesty, integrity, tough love, and – above all – mutual respect.

As I was thinking about these questions, several advantages for independent members of Congress came to mind. First and foremost: independence. I don't care who wins or what special interest pressure there is – be it political party, trade group, corporate interest, or self-anointed pledge-wielding fanatic. We all know what the job is; let's get it done for America's sake.

The second advantage is that, in a deadlocked Congress, independents can rationally and unbiasedly point out benefits and flaws in opposing positions to provide a "tipping point" that drives the issue to successful conclusion. By applying a small amount of pressure to stalemate, independents can quickly alter the balance to make dysfunction dramatically less common and strident. The party faithful can then "go with the flow" as the endgame becomes obvious and progress unavoidable.

Being independent is not exactly easy or a guarantee of success. The deadlocked ruling parties can push independents to the side, preferring inside to continue their unproductive gamesmanship. Here independents need to apply a little tough love, all the while showing respect for the country and its institutions. This is not a revolution, but a renewal of the principles and traditions we all hold in reverence. This is not about personal or party gain; this is about America and our drive to the top.

As an independent, I have nothing to lose but an election. As a nation, we have so much to gain by tipping the balance toward action and success.