So, without further ado -- three things politicans can do to move themselves up on the trust ladder.
- Improve constituent communications: Time and time again I have advocates tell me "I wrote a letter to my Congressman about issue X and I got a form letter back about totally-unrelated issue Y." No wonder citizens feel that politicians aren't listening! However, rather than assuming politicians and their staff are sitting around eating bon-bons all day and sending random letters, let's look at the reasons behind why this happens. In fact, in most cases, what it boils down to is a resource problem. Did you know that since the advent of the Internet, constituent communications have at least quadrupled? Yes, you read that right. And yet the resources available to deal with those communications have remained virtually unchanged. Members of the House, for example, have the same number of staff as they had before the Internet. While Congress has certainly become more efficient in managing these communications, the panacea of "increase efficiency" can go only so far. At some point, it's time to get more people and systems in place to manage the problem.Although it would be wildly unpopular, members of Congress should use their own advocacy skills to make the case for additional funding, and then apply those funds to solving this urgent issue.
- Be clear about why you're in Congress: Every elected official has his or her own reason for enduring the grinding 24/7 schedule and constant stream of abuse that, these days, is the hallmark of a Congressional career. 99.9% of the time it's not "because I like to be powerful." For the most part, it's because they want to achieve some specific policy goal or because they want to help their legislative district or state. Members of Congress need to be clear ? to themselves and to their constituents ? what their proactive agenda is, even in the midst of partisan bickering and infighting.
- Stop adding fuel to the fire: Hopefully it goes without saying, but for heaven's sake politicians should please stop any unethical, shading or just plain disgusting dealings that make the whole institution look bad. Former Rep. Massa, I'm looking at you.