Politicians Govern Themselves

Politicians at most levels of government, particularly Congress, set the rules governing their own ethics, campaigns and the process for a bill becoming a law. They set their pay, the rules for conflicts-of-interest and control elections.

The Senate, to this day, refuses to require Senators to file campaign finance reports electronically. Instead, Senators take electronic records, print them out and submit them to the FEC, forcing organizations to spend countless painstaking hours recreating the electronic versions.

Politicians often use their control of the legislative process in countless other ways to limit transparency and control what gets voted on, and what doesn’t. Often, this means that one person, such as the Speaker of the House or the Senate majority leader, exercises nearly complete control over which bills come up for a vote, which committees they go through first and how long they have to be made available to the public beforehand.

Bills with popular support never see the light of day, while others circumvent the normal legislative process because of the leaders’ whims.