Hello, Washington? It's the 21st Century calling. You're less important than you thought.
There is no reason why all 535 members of Congress need to live and work in Washington, DC, disconnected from their constituency. There is also no reason why Representatives should spend upwards of a quarter of each term campaigning and commuting -- or worse yet, ignoring votes entirely. It's time Congress came home to us, the People.
My proposal is simple, and it needs just three words. Let Congress telecommute.
The benefits of this would be enormous, and the costs minimal -- except to the lobbyists, who currently find it quite convenient that they can bend everyone's ear since they're all in one place at one time. Each Congressman should have to live and have an office in the District he or she represents. This office could be owned by the Federal government, as that would certainly simplify matters whenever the seat changes hands, but it is not strictly necessary for this idea to work. All that is necessary is a data link back to Washington. The original concept of Congress centered around 18th century communications -- that is, Pony Express at best. In theory, we could have sent Congress home when the telegraph came into vogue, but that's understandably a bit impersonal. The earliest this idea would have been practical is when the telephone system allowed for 435 people to be on the same line at once -- which had happened by the 1960s at the latest. Still a bit impersonal, even if they could watch proceedings on TV and phone in their comments and votes.
But what's the excuse now? If there is anyone representing a district that has no reasonable data access, then they can be exempted to live in a nearby district that has such provisions. They'll still be a lot more accessible to their constituency than they are now. It will also mean a lot more to people when their Representative lives a couple miles away (as will generally be the case in urban districts) rather than a couple thousand miles away. The fact that they aren't going to talk to their Representative on any given day is irrelevant, what's important is that they feel like they CAN.
Senators should probably operate from the state capitol, unless they REALLY don't like each other. (It happens!) Or, they should live wherever they choose, within the state they represent, and furnish an office and data connection at their own expense if they prefer.