I'm thinking about asking my 65-pound yellow Labrador retriever, Autumn, to run for Congress.
I think it's what the founders had in mind.
Consider Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads: "No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty-five Years, and been seven years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."
See what the founders intended? They were mindful that dog-years are measured differently than human years. That's why they imposed restrictions for a "Person" but established no age or residence requirement for a dog.
Autumn on Capitol Hill: Think of what a refreshing change this would be. Everyone loves my dog. My candidate doesn't wear clothes, eats only one kind of food, drinks only water, never touches money and rarely commits any transgression other than leaving an occasional residue in a neighbor's yard when no one is looking.
Now, let's contrast this to human members of Congress:
- Everyone hates them. They show up fully dressed, do nothing useful, borrow money from our grandchildren, make a lot of noise, argue a lot, and create stuff for which the only metaphor is right there in the grass.
- Although the date of the new fiscal year never changes — it's always Oct. 1 — Congress hasn't passed an annual budget on time for half a dozen years. There isn't the remotest possibility the fiscal year 2013 budget will be enacted on schedule this year.
- Since Dwight Eisenhower was president, Congress has enacted a balanced budget, or one with a surplus, in only five years out of 51 — in 1969, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. In all other years there has been a deficit, meaning an increase in the overall U.S. national debt.
- As summer heads into fall, we are heading for what Washington Post columnist Walter Pincus calls a "perfect storm" of fiscal disasters. After Election Day on Nov. 6, a lame duck Congress will be confronting the 2013 budget, a need to raise the debt ceiling, and a process called sequestration that could introduce automatic and painful spending cuts no later than Jan. 2.
It has been widely said the big flaw in democracy is that elected officials soon learn they control the money. In today's world, they even control money that doesn't exist. The federal government now borrows about 40 cents for every dollar it spends.
But maybe that applies only to people.
No person in either party has shown a willingness to make any of the difficult decisions that would prevent catastrophe.
But maybe a dog might.
My dog Autumn talks to me when no one else is around. "The way I would do it," she told me the other day, "I would authorize the government to spend only what it takes in."
Huh? It's a good thing my dog doesn't talk when other people are listening. That heresy won't get anyone elected, even a friendly Lab.
I'd like to learn more about Autumn's campaign platform but right now lightning is flashing and thunder is booming outside. When that happens, Autumn scurries to a spot beneath my desk and hunkers down.
That proves dogs are smarter than people.
I'm not certain what will happen this fall and, to be perfectly honest, I can't guarantee voting for Autumn will restore fiscal sanity on Capitol Hill.
But, then, nothing else you do will restore it, either.
About me: I'm an Oakton resident and an author on military topics. My current book is "Mission to Berlin," a history of U.S. bomber crews in World War II. Autumn lay at my feet when I wrote it.