Phil’s in the 5.5% of Americans with Power

…over the Government Reform Committee.

Phil Windley’s congressman, Jason Chaffetz, is chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, so Phil’s power exceeds 99% of Americans. Representative Chaffetz learned last week that urban Utahns don’t like his selective oversight. At his infamous Town Hall, his constituents (and they were, it turns out) wanted him to do his job: chair some oversight on conflicts of interest. Reminds me of that great scene in Top Gun when Goose shouts from the back seat, “C’mon Maverick, Do some of that Pilot shit!”

<techTalk> (for those of us compulsive about the infrastructure needed to empower the Crazy Ones). My tiny team is working out the nontrivial service required to tell a verified constituent like Phil precisely how much influence he has over a congressional committee his representative sits on.

It sounds straightforward to give Phil the powerful phrase, “Phil Windley’s in the 5.5% of Americans with power over the Government Reform Committee.” Let’s call it the 5.5% solution, because, if we can automagically generate that soundbite, we can focus the energies of constituents and save them from the MustFixEverythingRightNow burnout that Arianna Huffington warned about last week:

The goal of any true resistance is to affect outcomes, not just to vent. And the only way to affect outcomes and thrive in our lives, is to find the eye in the hurricane, and act from that place of inner strength.

Inner strength sounds a lot like constituent strength, so let’s go with that. If all these Verified Constituent services were bundled into an app, maybe we’d call it the Who knows? Maybe that’s next.

As Phil described Monday, it will soon be straightforward to verify an online constituent’s jurisdictions so her representatives know her voice matters, even without a real name and street address: That’s important.

Knowing that Phil Windley lives in Provo UT means we know Jason Chaffetz is your representative. Here are the 9 steps required to implement the 5.5% Solution:

  1. He’s on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
  2. Use our preferred brand {variable}, the Government Reform Committee
  3. What party holds the majority in the House?
  4. Is Chaffetz a member of the Majority Party? Y/N
  5. If N, Stop here. This Verified Constituent has NO power over the committee (only the majority party has committee power).
  6. If Y, how many Majority Party members are on the {Government Reform Committee}?
  7. Answer: 24.
  8. 24 of 435 Majority House members are on the {Government Reform Committee} = 5.5%.
  9. So: “Phil Windley’s in the 5.5% of Americans with Power over the Government Reform Committee.


The folks in Utah’s 3rd Congressional district are way ahead of the rest of us on this: Not only have they learned the lesson, to only talk to your Member of Congress (MoC), they’re at the next level of sophistication, not mentioned by IGC: only talk to your MoC about policies he can influence.

It does no good to talk to Jason Chaffetz about self-driving cars or anything except Government Reform. He’ll give you a souvenir photo and promise to pay attention, but, like most constituent actions, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Yesterday, I suggested that Chaffetz’ constituents form a F.A.N. Club so they could guide his actions up front rather than protest his inactions after the fact. Ideally, his Friends, Allies & Neighbors would rely on Subject Matter Experts, organized into Special Interest Groups, SIGs, to guide their recommendations.

More on that next time.