Imagine starting a new job and six months into it telling your boss that you were moving your family to another state and would be commuting to work. Most of us would be looking for another job – in the state our family was moving to – and that is exactly what Rep. Chip Cravaack should do.
The voters of Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, in effect, hired Chip Cravaack when they elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives in the last election. Now, just six months after starting his new job, Rep. Cravaack has announced that he is moving his family to New Hampshire. Not to worry though, Rep. Cravaack has assured his constituents that he will continue to represent them in Washington during the week, spend Saturdays in his district and then depart for New Hampshire to spend time with his family on Sundays. There are just a couple of problems with this scenario.
First of all, the freshman Congressman is going to be spending more time in transit than he will in the halls of Congress or with constituents. Presumably he will fly from D.C. to Minnesota on Thursdays. Sometime on Saturdays he will make his way to an airport to fly to New Hampshire. Come Monday mornings, he will need to be on an early morning flight to get back to the nation’s capital. If Rep. Cravaack enjoys flying so much he should have kept his former job as a pilot. There simply is no way that a schedule like this will not have a negative impact on his ability to interact and represent his district.
And then there is the problem with appearances. It just looks bad when the person you elected to represent you in Congress moves his family to another state. Call me old-fashioned, but I think representatives and their families should live in the districts they represent. Their spouses should work there and their children should go to school there. It’s about being active participants in your community.
This will, of course, be seen as a partisan issue with Republicans saying that it won’t affect Rep. Cravaack’s ability to serve his district and Democrats saying that it will. But politics shouldn’t enter into this discussion. A baseline qualification for being a representative in Congress should be that when you’re not in D.C., you are living in your district.
Come November 2012, Rep. Cravaack just might find he is out of a job. No doubt, by then he will be tired of the long commutes anyway.