Job qualifications and how I see my strengths and weaknesses in challenging for US Representative:
Only partly tongue-in-cheek: US Representative must be one of the easiest jobs anywhere — think about it — how many jobs do you know of wherein the worker never gets fired — even if he or she is incompetent?
Actually it is a challenging job if it is done with insight and creativity and I appreciate anyone — Republican or Democrat — who is public spirited enough to serve in the position as a public servant and not for their own personal power and gain. Please note: John Duncan signed the Newt Gingrich “Contract with America “ which said the Republicans would limit US Representatives to six terms. When the Republican US Representatives who were elected at the time of the “Contract with America “ were elected to their sixth term they decided that what the “Contract with America “ had really meant was that only Democrats should be term limited.
The U.S. Representative has seven areas of responsibility:
1. Voting to organize the House of Representatives
This is a crucial operation because it determines who will chair the committees and subcommittees for the session. The Republicans have recently shown execrable judgment in selecting the House leadership. In my opinion, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay and John Boehner have been among the all time worst leaders of the House of Representatives. It is hard to visualize, but John Duncan must have approved of Tom Delay and his behavior since he donated $5000 to his legal defense fund. Our country desperately needs the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and East Tennessee is derelict if we keep sending Republicans that the rest of the country has to overcome — do your part! Help the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives.
2. Constituent service
It is not mentioned in the constitution but an important part of the U.S. Representative job is to help constituents who have problems or otherwise need assistance in dealing with the federal government. This is something that contributes to the problem of U.S. Representatives being almost impossible to replace. Nationwide, people are very unhappy overall with the members of the House of Representatives as shown in the following quote from the WashingtonPost.com:
“Thirteen percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, essentially unchanged from December but above the all-time low of 9% from November. Congressional approval has rarely been 20% or higher in the last three years.”
But people uniformly think their own US Representative is good. ALL US REPRESENTATIVES HELP THEIR OWN CONSTITUENTS. It is not something they should get overwhelming credit for but a majority of the voters let constituent service determine their vote. ANYONE WHO IS ELECTED CAN DO IT!
If elected, I will exert whatever effort is needed to serve the people of East Tennessee in dealing with the federal government. I worked for 26 years helping students who had problems with school bureaucracy and I would continue the same kind of effort as a U.S. Representative.
I can’t say I have received many awards but two that are applicable in the context of helping people with their problems are
a. I was voted the Outstanding Faculty Member by the faculty of the State Technical Institute at Knoxville (now Pellissippi State) in 1976.
b. I was given the annual “Servant of All“ award by my church in 2000.
3. Proposing laws
Many new laws, revisions of old laws, resolutions and constitutional amendments are introduced by U.S. Representatives each year. Some are good, some bad and some of minimal importance. Our U.S. Representative is on record as favoring some laws that I consider destructive.
4. Working in committees on proposed laws.
The opportunity to influence legislation comes in the meetings and hearings held by the committees considering proposed laws. I have worked well in committees throughout my career. I have worked on committees to build plant facilities, introduce new products to the market and start new organizations. I have served on the board of directors of professional engineer societies (California, New jersey and Tennessee), chemical engineering societies, Toastmaster Clubs and the Technical Society of Knoxville. I have served in my church as a deacon and as a member of the administrative council. I have worked throughout my teaching career with program advisory committees. I served on the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Working on committees is an opportunity I enjoy and is something I have a lot of experience with.
5. Voting on laws.
The difficulty in voting for or against proposed laws is the original bill or the amended bill may have both something desirable and something undesirable and it may be a matter of choosing the lesser of evils or determining the greater good in deciding how to vote. If elected, my criterion will always be to vote for what is in the best long term interest of East Tennessee and the United States. I will always ask for and respect information and opinions on all sides of a question.
One abuse of the power to write laws is the practice of authorizing federal government spending in congressional districts for the purpose of influencing votes in the next election- they all seem to do the same thing and brag loudly about what they have done for their district. What will it take to stop the unnecessary and excessive federal spending intended to influence votes when even our own “fiscally conservative” representative does the same as all the others?
6. Impeachment of federal officials
This is not common but if it occurred, I would not be governed by politics but would be fair and render a judgment based on the facts.
I think the Republican impeachment of President Clinton was a disgraceful and polarizing attempt to embarrass the president for short term political gain. The Republicans refused to allow a vote on a censure motion that the Democrats could have supported and instead voted to impeach the president- knowing that there was no possibility he would lose the vote in the Senate. If the Republicans had thought President Clinton would be removed from office and Vice President Gore would be president at the time of the next election they would not have voted for impeachment. John Duncan was one of very few representatives who voted for impeachment on all three charges.
It seems ridiculous but the national Republicans are seriously considering impeaching President Barak Obama for no good reason except that Republicans haven’t gotten over the fact that he was elected president. What is the position of John Duncan on this ridiculous action? Will he act like he did when he participated in impeaching President Clinton? Will he join the Tea Party in a futile effort to impeach a president who is doing what presidents do? The chances of 66 senators voting for conviction are miniscule. And the whole thing is for show since the Republicans would not want Vice President Biden to become president.
7. Ceremonial appearances
Public appearances and meeting visitors are an important part of the U.S. Representative job and, while I am not likely to ever become a professional speaker, I enjoy meeting people and talking to groups.
Other thoughts on qualifications.
In my opinion, a U.S. Representative should be someone who has a variety of experience and an education in a field that gives them an understanding of technology ( note that I may be prejudiced).
My experience is very wide and I find it gives me the ability to synthesize ideas from several areas to come up with creative solutions to problems.
As an example, when I lived in New Jersey, I had a grape arbor and I decided to squeeze the grapes to make juice. We stomped the grapes (it works very well) and then tried to strain them with cheesecloth. It was VERY slow and I had about 500 pounds of grapes. I looked around the basement and found the answer. I rinsed our washing machine out well and put it on spin cycle. I then ran the grapes through the washing machine and it worked beautifully (the juice came out the drain hose).
I was listening to B-1 Bob Dornan on the Rush Limbaugh show ( I can rarely listen more than a couple of minutes without getting disgusted or infuriated or both) and he commented derisively on the limited experience of most of the members of congress. He should at least know something about that. We would get better laws if some congressmen had technical backgrounds. There are more than enough Republican lawyers in Congress.