Serial entrepreneur Norbert Richter claims no relation to the inventor of the Richter Scale, but if his breakthrough idea is successful, he’ll be causing political tremors for decades. Richter has used his failed congressional primary challenge as inspiration for a free market workaround that has the potential to be voter-imposed term limits.
His new organization, FireYourCongressman.com, bypasses the roadblock that has stopped every federal term limits proposal: incumbent professional politicians who intend to die in office. Curator of the Senate Mitch McConnell’s cliched response to voters’ desire for term limits is always a dismissive “that’s what elections are for,” knowing the chances of being beaten in a primary are minuscule. In 2016 only six incumbents lost to primary challengers.
And in a delicious bit of irony, Richter intends to shake the incumbents’ world by harnessing the power of money, a resource incumbents always thought was their advantage.
This week, he’s launching FYC, a political action committee for the rest of us that’s designed to jump-start challenges to incumbent members of Congress from both parties.
As the site explains, “Most congressional districts are so gerrymandered that there is no real contest in the general election ... This is why it is so important to have good choices in the primaries.” As Richter discovered, both parties actively discourage challengers.
FireYourCongressman.com is for voters disenfranchised by political insiders like McConnell. If you’re ready to fight back, Richter is ready to help. He does it by attacking the problem head-on. Challengers need money to successfully challenge an incumbent, but it’s almost impossible to raise money for a challenge.
This limits primary challenges to the foolhardy or the personally wealthy.
FYC lets voters fed up with their incumbent contribute in advance to a potential challenger. FYC pools this money and will make it available, in the form of a direct contribution and independent expenditures, when a qualified candidate arises. Instead of lack of money discouraging challengers, now a waiting war chest may attract challengers.
Any donation under $200 is completely anonymous, which is good for the faint of heart. Donations over that amount are reported, but the money is simply listed as going to the PAC, not the campaign where it is spent.
That way, donors are insulated from vindictive incumbents bent on revenge.
Richter is aware that he has to establish credibility, since he has zero track record in politics. He states at the beginning he will “have to convince donors” of his organization’s legitimacy and he plans to do it by “being very transparent.” He wants to make sure “a $20 donation becomes a $20 candidate contribution.”
He’s off to a good start. To date, he’s paid all FYC expenses out of his own pocket. Richter knows eventually he’ll need to add a professional staff. His goal is to keep overhead expenses to a minimum so more money can be spent on campaigns.
And speaking of campaigns, what if your congressman is a member of the House Freedom Caucus or the Socialism Caucus and has only been in office six years? You’re happy, but there’s this nagging feeling you could do more.
Richter has a fund for you, too. It’s called the Priority Algorithm. This is a general fund that’s only spent to defeat really worthless incumbents selected by the Fickle Finger of Algorithm. The algorithm analyzes a number of factors including how long in office (the longer the more negative), attendance record and involvement in scandals. He also includes an overlooked but important factor that brings tears to the eyes of government reformers: The increase in personal wealth since the member has been in office. Like the aforementioned time in office, more is not good.
On the negative side, the algorithm equates bills sponsored or co-sponsored as a positive factor. That’s the Widget Theory of governing: more widgets mean a better member, when the fact is more bills mean bigger government, which is a negative for conservatives. As far as I’m concerned, repealing laws is better than passing laws.
But on the plus side, Richter is open to including nepotism and dynasty- building as negative factors in the algorithm.
Once the records are crunched, the top ten will be targeted for defeat. Richter guarantees the split will be half Democrat and half Republican for at least the top 20.
If FireYourCongressman.com gets off the ground, it will be a genuine, nonpartisan, free-market, grassroots effort to put accountability back into U.S. politics. If you’re unhappy with our current bloated, complacent, sanctimonious and unaccountable Congress, then Richter is giving you an opportunity to put your money where your disgruntlement is.
Visit the site today and either contribute to fire your specific member of Congress, contribute to the Priority Algorithm to fire the worst of the worst or become a Great American by contributing to both funds.