Vol. 48, No. 4

In this edition

According to the latest polls, trust in government is at an all-time low. Depending on who you talk to, this may either be a good thing or a bad thing. For some on the right, it may be a good thing because it is consistent with their core belief that government has gotten too big […]

“We cannot achieve great things alone.”

We need to bridge the ever-growing chasm between the American people and their elected leaders – a rift that has been exacerbated by the Administration’s flagrant executive overreach, a loss of opportunity for middle-class Americans, and a lack of transparency that pervades the federal government.

“Republicans need to show that we can deliver.”

American voters were spectacularly supportive of Republican candidates in this year’s elections. We have 54 Republican Senators and we’ll have more Republicans in the House than at any point since Harry Truman was President. And, it could all be for nothing if we as a Party squander the opportunity we have been given by failing […]

“We can restore the trust and confidence by coming together to find common ground.”

If there is one thing that members on both sides of the aisle can agree on, it is that our country is divided politically. Members of Congress approach issues from different perspectives and come to different conclusions about the best solutions to the problems we face.

“Washington needs to be recalibrated so that it is smaller, less intrusive, and more accountable.”

While it will take substantial time to reverse the problems described above and to restore our country’s exceptionalism, we need to first focus on creating an environment for economic growth. Every piece of legislation and every federal regulation should be judged by its impact on an overarching goal of creating “more jobs and better paychecks […]

Q&A with Michael Dimock

The President of the Pew Research Center discusses the low-level of trust Americans have toward the federal government and how it compares to past years. “The perception of dysfunction in Washington, along with a persistent sense of economic insecurity, is clearly weighing down views of government. And just as with interpersonal relationships, trust in government […]

Want to Improve Trust in Government?

“Should we be surprised that so many Americans hold Congress in such low regard?” The veteran political strategist and former House leadership aide says the public’s view of government is not surprising given the vitriol they are exposed to during political campaigns.

Restore Regular Order

Regular order is Congress doing the basic work of legislating which includes deliberating in committees, engaging with stakeholders, offering and voting on amendments and ultimately passing or rejecting legislative proposals. These cornerstones of the democratic process were not hallmarks of the 113th Congress.

The Michigan Example on Immigration

Our country needs a long-term, comprehensive solution to an immigration policy that everyone knows is broken and continues to hold back our economy. It’s essential that the White House and Congress work together on an innovative approach that will address our country’s present needs as well as those long into the future.

Where Consensus Exists

Was the end of this election the beginning of a period committed to governance or merely the beginning of the 2016 campaign season, with all of the gridlock and divisiveness that implies? More to the point, can the Congress and the White House earn back the trust our citizens deserve to have in their government?

Frontrunners, Dark Horses, and the Presidential Nomination Contest

Frontrunners don’t always win, but presidential nomination contests are rarely wide-open races. Dark horses don’t emerge from the back of the pack. The 2008 winners were in second place in their respective party’s poll.


If there are wise men left in Washington, then Bill Frenzel was most assuredly one of them. He was both a scholar and a statesman who served his country in many important ways.

Ripon Profile of Mia Love

“I ran for Congress because I believe this country is in real trouble, and it’s up to We the People to fix things before it’s too late. The people of America want a government that is transparent. Our citizens deserve to know and understand the ‘hows and whys’ for decisions made at every level of […]

Want to Improve Trust in Government?

Then improve the tone & tenor of political campaigns.

Feehery1Should we be surprised that so many Americans hold Congress in such low regard?

For the last decade, Congressional approval ratings have held steady between 10 and 20 percent.

John McCain likes to joke that the only folks who give Congress the thumbs up are “paid staffers and blood relatives,” but the American people’s persistent disillusion in our democracy is no laughing matter.

I think the fact that we live in a brave new world of 24/7 campaigns is a big reason why people hold the Congress in such low regard.

As soon as one election is over, Members of Congress immediately prepare themselves for the next campaign, raising money, doing opposition research and otherwise girding themselves for battle.

And given the state of modern campaigning, it is not too hard to see why they so aggressively worry about defending themselves and their reputations.

The new world of campaigning has poured more resources and spewed more vitriol at more people than at any time in our nation’s history.

If Coke and Pepsi ran the same kind of negative campaigns that the Republicans and Democrats run against each other, nobody would ever pick up a soft drink again.

I have a simple solution to stopping this endless race to the bottom.

Apply the rules of decorum that are followed in both the House and the Senate to political campaigns.

The new world of campaigning has poured more resources and spewed more vitriol at more people than at any time in our nation’s history.

If a candidate or a Super PAC associated with a candidate’s campaign break those rules of decorum, they should face a significant penalty, perhaps even expulsion from the Congress.

Let me explain.

Under the Rules of the House, based on the book of parliamentary procedure written by Thomas Jefferson (according to the House Rules Committee website): “a Member should avoid impugning the motives of another Member, the Senate or the President, using offensive language, or uttering words that are otherwise deemed unparliamentary. These actions are strictly against House Rules and are subject to a demand that the words be taken down.”

The Senate has similar rules. According to Senate Historian Richard Baker’s excellent little pamphlet on the history of the upper chamber, called Traditions: “Early in the 20th century, the Senate added an important decorum-related rule. During 1902 floor proceedings, a senator openly questioned a colleague’s integrity. When that colleague stormed into the Chamber to brand the assertion ‘a willful, malicious, and deliberate lie,’ the accusing senator jumped from behind his desk and punched his challenger in the face. Efforts to separate the combatants sparked a brawl. After the galleries were cleared and order restored, the Senate temporarily suspended both members from serving, censured them, and adopted stricter decorum guidelines.   Today’s Rule XIX includes those 1902 guidelines: ‘No Senator in debate shall directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.’”

I have a simple solution to stopping this endless race to the bottom. Apply the rules of decorum that are followed in both the House and the Senate to political campaigns.

Imagine how differently the American people would feel about their elected representatives if they weren’t barraged by thousands of 30 second commercials calling candidates crooks, liars and thieves.

Imagine if our campaigns were based on issues and experience, rather than ad-hominem attacks and slimy innuendo.

Imagine the quality of candidates who would decide to throw their hats in the ring if they knew that they could engage in substantive discussions about real solutions, rather than risk their reputation in the cesspool of the current political campaign.

Perhaps by extending the rules of decorum to campaigns, Congress could lead a revolution in social engagement.

Perhaps instead of living in a society of gotcha, of rudeness, of hostility, Members of the House and the Senate could teach us how to act with good manners and how to disagree without being disagreeable.

When they engage each other inside the hallowed Halls of Congress, our leaders either act like responsible adults or face stiff sanctions. Those sanctions should apply outside the Congress too.

John Feehery is President of Communications and Director of Government Affairs for Quinn Gillespie and Associates. He previously served as a top aide to the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.