A deep fissure between federal lawmaking practices and the Internet-fueled expectations of the people is just starting to open.
Here’s a fascinating interview with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), in which he justifies not reading the legislation that he votes on.
He’s right that the bills Congress passes are almost incomprehensible, but he draws the wrong conclusion from it. It’s not OK to pass bills that you can’t read and literally don’t understand.
Congress and the bureaucracy will come to learn a lesson that other parts of our society have learned: The Internet changes things.
Because it is now possible to see legislation before Congress passes it, Americans now expect to see legislation before it passes. And they will come to expect that their representative understand it—in detail.
A machine has grown up in Washington over the past two hundred years where representatives rely on colleagues who rely on staff to write bills. This has not produced a desirable body of federal law, and it is not a process that the public will accept for much longer.