Friday, October 24, 2008

An Open Source Contract

In 1994, something amazing happened. A collection of Republican candidates and incumbents came together and agreed to a cohesive national plan for Congress which included reform and a heavy focus on limited government. This well crafted plan was known as the Contract with America; it was a contract that these people who signed on would promise to strive for in the coming term to help reform Washington and rope in the government. This contract was violated, in the end, as there still are "GOP Revolutionaries" Congress in office more than 12 years later, earmarks are out of control, and term limits are unheard of. Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, and Fred Thompson are the only people I can think of off-hand who self-imposed term-limits on themselves and followed through.

What we need is a new contract that members of Congress who don't abide by, aren't worth voting for. A contract that truly includes reform and bold new ideas to reboot the economy would be amazing for Republicans and for the country as new ideas are being discussed. Current Republican leadership are unwilling to consider such a prospect. I say we, the foot soldiers of conservatism, take action on our own and create a new contract for the American public. In fact, I call upon the Next Right, Red State, Race 4 2008, and Save the GOP to be the frontline activists in creating a new, Open Source Contract for America (OSCA).

Why Open Source? The greatness of the open source movement is that it allows everyone's thoughts and ideas to be brought together and reviewed by their peers. The openness allows everyone to be a part of the contract, making everyone a part owner who is responsible for making it work. How do I propose this is done? Consider the following...

First, an open period where suggestions are made for formal planks of the contract. Begin with the original planks of the 1994 Contract with America and or shrink from there. Take all the options and allow voting for the top 20 planks which become part of the OSCA. Require people to log-in with some sort of OSCA account in order to be able to vote on the platform. Then, once the planks are established -- that's when we begin the most interesting part, the legislation.

Each plank must be backed with specific pieces of legislation. It can not be mere rhetoric, or the right will become just as empty as the left's current leader. We need a plan of attack. Take each plank and flesh out with specific ideas -- for example, if we have a plank to prevent wasteful spending, include a year long earmark moratorium as the first piece of proposed legislation. Perhaps a balanced budget amendment as the second. If we have an elected official reform plank, bring back the push for term limits and perhaps an idea I'm borrowing from Sandy Treadwell -- require full disclosure for members of Congress who's family members or former staffers register to become lobbyists at any level of government. On the economy? Work with the Beyond Bailouts program to come up with clever, conservative based approaches to reform our government.

Why don't I do this myself? I have neither the time, nor the web capabilities to create such a new contract. I'm an engineer working full time in Baltimore that's looking to buy a house in the near future with my wife. My free time is limited. But there are others out there with the time, the dedication, and the ideas that could create a brighter future through this type of a venue. I await responses and ideas.

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