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Another Way to Take on Washington

By Dan Froomkin
11:59 AM ET, 03/ 4/2009

Yesterday, I listed seven ways President Obama could pressure the Washington establishment to support the course change he is calling for. Several readers posted their own ideas in comments, and I'd like to call attention to one suggestion I found particularly original and intriguing.

Reader scottm2 wrote: "The entrenched two-party dynamic in Congress is the biggest obstacle to change, so go around it. Instead of meeting with the House and Senate party leadership, meet with entire state delegations. Include governors if possible. Congressmen and Senators are more likely to get down to the actual needs of their states -- and less likely to wage culture wars or otherwise pursue a useless national party agenda -- if they are in mixed company and must focus on practical considerations.

"Follow-up on these meetings in DC with speeches at statehouses around the country. Tell state legislatures what the stimulus package and other new policies will mean for them. Show state residents that you have listened to and are working with their elected representatives. Demonstrate that you're on the job for their state whether it voted for you or not. Show the reddest states in America that you are not a bogeyman, and that your policies are rational and will help them.

"Start using the language of states rather than parties. 'The Oklahoma delegation had some good ideas about agriculture subsidies' ... 'The California delegation has issues on environmental policy that we should consider' ... 'The Utah delegation's suggestion may not work nationally, but could be great at the state level -- let's try it.'

"So yes, get out there and sell your policies. But by taking Congress out of its usual way of doing business, you can get these people actually doing their jobs -- representing their constituents -- rather than spending all of their time raising money and being party hacks. There are actually some very talented and experienced people in Congress; leveraging that talent to improve the country has rarely been as necessary as it is now."

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