INTRODUCTION: This page serves to introduce a new movement -- that to generate a CITIZENS' CONGRESS -- one that would truly both represent and empower "We the People." Let's seize the opportunity of this congressional elections' year to begin to build a collaboration of citizens, select Members of Congress and select candidates-to-be-Members, congressional district (CD) by CD. See Chapter 4 of the Amazon e-book: 1% + 99% = 100%: How "We the People" can occupy politics, change Congress and renew the American Dream for more on a "Strategy to Build a Peoples' Congress".

SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE: For Members of Congress and candidates for Congress who would like to complete this year's Survey of Members and Candidates, responses to which will be used to select those that the Citizens' Congress organization would support for election or reelection this year. Go directly to the questionnaire. Click on link:, and proceed to answer questions online. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION!   

LETTER: To those who would like to join in forming a new organization to advance a truly representative, really people-empowering “Citizens’ Congress”:

I am a firm believer that, as citizens of a great republic nurturing the ideals of the most precious democratic experiment in the world, we have, each of us, a responsibility to participate in what, after all, is not now but should be -- OUR political process -- else we prove unable to maintain our republic as Ben Franklin challenged us to do as he emerged from the Constitutional Convention of 1787. 

As someone who has been involved in politics for 40 years and served in elected office, I’ve focused my attention on what I believe to be ISSUE #1 -- #1 because it affects our ability to get anything done on any of the big headline issues. For #1 is a set of three interrelated "How to‘s -- How to:

(1) Wake up the great American majority to the severity of our national crisis;

(2) Create a true people-based politics; and

(3) Substantially reform and revamp the only branch of our federal government designed to represent "We the People" -- the Congress, especially the House of Representatives.

The system is broke, and only WE can fix it!

The question of how we can transform the gridlocked, dysfunctional, historically low-rated U.S. Congress -- especially the House -- into an institution that could be recognized as a "People’s" or "Citizens" Congress is one of the most crucial questions of our time. The process of answering it may determine whether our great American experiment will be won or lost.

For decades, we’ve seen piles of books diagnose and highlight the failings and increasing corruption of Congress. Each typically concludes with a small set of prescriptions for "reform" that are weak tea. Why? -- Because they address symptoms, not causes; or they confuse symptoms with causes. They fail to get at the fundamental, core issue -- the need for institutional innovation and reform. My work selects the best of the ideas of reformers and writers and asks: What are the common-denominator causes? How are we going to deal with them, both to raise people’s hopes and reduce barriers to change?

Campaign finance reformers, for example, have been fighting the corrupting influence of money in politics for years -- by focusing only on money! They forget about people and so end up validating the importance of money over people. They fail to understand that only two things count in politics: money and time. If people don’t volunteer enough time to make what should be their politics truly theirs, then money and all that it finances necessarily dominates. It trumps people (US) right out of the game. Campaign finance reform has failed, as I predicted it would.

An economist by vocation, politics has been my lifelong avocation. My first (2004) political book was WE THE PEOPLE: A Conservative Populism. Since then, I have continued to write with an increasing sense of urgency. Last year, I posted an e-book via Amazon entitled A NEW AMERICAN ®EVOLUTION: How "We the People" can truly "take back" our government (Amazon e-book, 2012). The third book in my political series, cited further on, will be accessible via this website sometime in the near future. It will be part of a wiki so that, as with WIKIPEDIA, readers can add to, subtract from, and otherwise improve the work’s readability and usefulness. It may be the first completely electronic book, full of hotlinks which instantly take the reader to videos, music or images that sometimes entertain and always amplify the book’s value as a "how to" manual throughout. 

I hope that you share my sense of urgency. Our country is at or near a dangerous tipping point. More people representing all generations and walks of life need to rise to the challenge of our great American experiment. We need a new national movement -- a "Change Congress" movement, one that recognizes:

We cannot rely on Congress to reform itself; it has repeatedly failed to do so. Many former, fine Members of Congress (MoC’s) have stepped down out of frustration at their inability to effect what they see as necessary reforms of the institution.

Only "We the People" can drive real, democratic change so that we can eventually have a true Citizen’s Congress that both represents and empowers US. 

The vision, mission and strategy of a Citizens’ Congress, is as follows.

The Citizens’ Congress [CC] would be a grassroots movement supporting people-based congressional campaigns and driving basic, institutional reforms in the way Congress does “We the People”s business. It would effect a two-pronged, inside/outside strategy including formation of a shadow branch of government.

In the case of the CC, common sense and the Constitution answer the question: Who oversees the overseers? Only "We the People" can properly do so. We are outsiders looking in. All too often we are left out, only to bear the costs imposed on most of us -- as if we are uninvolved 3rd parties (and, in truth, aren‘t we too often so!). Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, said in 1989: "We need an external perch from which to critique and change an organization in decline."(like the Congress).

Establishing an alternative Congress might appear to be an impossibly great challenge. Not so. It is quite feasible and manageable. We would set up demonstration programs in a small number (say, 2-10) Congressional Districts (CDs) and then build out from success, district by district, year after year. In addition, this alternative congressional office model is the best way to build CC membership nationwide. Outreach and membership building are key. They go hand-in-hand with efforts to increase peoples’ participation in their politics and their government at all levels. These efforts would generate virtuous circles that create, and are spurred by, a high energy democracy peopled by an engaged citizenry. These virtuous circles would be antidotes to the seven vicious circles documented in my books. It is "possible to imagine a regenerating politics that restores democratic meaning."

What are other major tasks of a Citizens Congress? – To:

  • Periodically reach out to all voters in each CD to alert them to the existence of a shadow Congress, invite their participation, and indicate how this can help them "make a difference" on the issues of their most heartfelt concern.
  • Periodically, or whenever a major issue arises for our attention, to solicit ideas from voters and community-based organizations in each PC CD as to how the issue/problem can be solved.
  • Twice a year, mount a voter registration (VR) campaign in each CD in cooperation with other organizations who typically get involved in VR; e.g., the League of Women Voters.
  • Establish a Congressional website and newsletter for each CD that is both attractive and informative in ways that the self-serving sites and letters provided by your typical MoC‘s are not. Make sure that the website includes blogging, wiki and file sharing capabilities for constituents.
  • Use social media (Facebook, MoveOn, Google & Yahoo Groups, Twitter, et al. -- See Chapter 6 of my new book for more) to enable crowd-sourcing that, in turn, identifies, recognizes and builds upon people’s collective wisdom and intelligence in any CD.
  • Recruit citizens for independent committees in each CD that would inform and advise both the shadow MoC and CD voters on major issues before the Congress.
  • Convene frequent events to enable direct communication with and among constituents. These include Town Hall meetings, issue forums, rallies and demonstrations that are clearly different from the way such events are organized and carried out by conventional MoCs. How so? -- Insofar as they provide briefings or videos to those that cannot attend, reach out to invite political activists and others who are not the "usual suspects", and bring in experts as resource people in service to the public at-large.
  • Establish more than one office in any CD to help constituents with problems; enable them to organize, participate in rallies, demonstrations, petitions, voter I&R efforts, and otherwise empower them.
  • Interact with organized groups of all persuasions, throughout any CD, to determine how the shadow MoC can make common cause with them on critical issues.
  • Demonstrate and publicize CC MoC leadership on key issues and how it represents a major contrast with the official MoCs weak or lack of leadership.
  • Publicize what the alternative CC MoC and offices are doing and how what they are doing represents a substantial improvement over existing representation.

For more, see Chapter 4 of the book: 1% +99% =100%: How "We the People" can occupy politics, change Congress and renew the American Dream [BK2_C4.doc].

If you share my sense of urgency, please consider joining me with me and others to form a new, nonprofit organization to advance the cause of a Citizens’ Congress. We need to fill out rosters for three key parts: the Governing Board, Advisory Board, and Finance Committee -- your choice!

Let me know your interest, concerns or questions. I can be reached via email []or telephone [nos. 603-835-3924 (office) or 603-560-4223 (cell)].

Looking forward to your response, I am…

PETER BEARSE, Ph.D., Author, International Consulting Economist, and three-time candidate for Congress.