MARCO ISLAND — Naples and Marco area residents are so fed up with Washington politics that they are joining a national movement to fire Congress.
The movement, called Get Out of Our House (GOOOH), was founded in 2005 by Tim Cox, 49, of Texas, to replace all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We’ve lost control of the House and of the Senate. This effort is going to focus on the House, the people’s house,” said Keith Flaugh, a Marco resident leading the GOOOH movement on Island.
Flaugh organized the first event Wednesday night attracting about 50 people to the YMCA from the Marco Island and south Naples area.
GOOOH is a nonpartisan system to nominate and elect to the U.S. House people who are everyday Americans, not career politicians, he said.
“Goo is something you step in, this is go,” said Marco resident Bruce Novark, regarding the common mispronunciation of the movement he recently joined.
Cox proposed the caucus system in which candidates would be chosen by the people of each district.
Groups are popping up throughout Southwest Florida and across the country, including a GOOOH meet-up in the Forest Glen and Naples Lakes communities of south Naples. These groups are joining together to nominate candidates for Southwest Florida’s District 14 of the House of Representatives.
“Although this is non-partisan, you would expect the selected candidates here to be fairly conservative, just as in San Francisco, you would expect a flaming liberal,” said Flaugh, who then laughed.
“It’s intended to put the people’s house back in our hands and take it away from the big money,” he added.
Currently Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers. is the District 14 representative. Stephanie DuBois, Mack's press secretary, said the congressman is declining comment on the movement to oust him and others at this time.
The primary reason for GOOOH, Flaugh said, is that politicians are corrupt in that they currently represent big money, lobbyists, their party and their own careers instead of the voters.
“Get off the couch, stop yelling at the TV and writing letters nobody reads,” he said.
Cox, a systems engineer, spent his career building new computer systems before starting the national movement to build a better political system. The national Web site was launched in January, and since then, grew to about 200,000 members nationally, according the site, GOOOH.com.
For Flaugh, it started with an email. “It just gelled for me.”
Marco’s group began with about 10 people just 14 days prior to their first public meet-up on Wednesday night, he added.
Proponents say that money has corrupted Congress and that the two political parties have a death grip on the U.S. Government.
“Everybody is blaming everybody else. In my opinion, they’re all wrong... A lot of people are blaming Obama. I think we ought to thank him. I think we would have gotten there eventually with republicans, but he’s accelerated the anger in this country by 30 years,” said Flaugh.
The national goal is to get 500,000 members, who will all participate in the selection of their candidates and representatives. Members begin by answering a questionnaire on how they would vote on 100 key issues.
“Get yourself educated. We did allow this to happen,” Flaugh said
Following the questionnaire, participants are to be sorted in pools of 10 by congressional districts, and, that pool of 10 will choose the two best people based on answers to the questionnaire, accomplishments, personalities, skills and willingness to serve.
Those two will advance and the next week there will be a new pool of 10. One person rises to the top of the system, chosen by their peers as the GOOOH candidate.
“If you’re a snowbird, you have twice the influence,” Flaugh said.
While most attendees to the meet-up on Wednesday agreed with the problems in Congress, not all were immediately sold on the effectiveness of the GOOOH candidate selection process.
“Someone of the liberal persuasion is not inclined to be involved since fiscal conservatism is a big part of this. Are we going to take more votes from the conservative party?” asked Holmes Empson of Marco Island.
Flaugh responded: “Ah, yes, the spoiler... The process is broken. If you play in the same process and expect a different result, Glenn Beck would call you a lunatic.”
At the end of the meeting, Empson said he remained both curious and skeptical.
“I’m concerned about it being a splitter, but I’m not going to rule it out,” he said.
Marco resident Janet O’Connell wondered aloud if dividing the efforts of like-minded groups, such as the Tea Party, would be less effective.
“You’ve got to have a united effort. If the Tea Party is gaining momentum, which it is, why not combine with them?” O’Connell asked.
“Let’s bet on more than one horse... They (Tea Party and other groups) don’t have a process to replace candidates,” Flaugh responded.
His message throughout the evening was that “the people would have to get involved to take back their House.”
“And you’re going to have to stay involved. You’re going to have to hold them accountable. Today they’re only being held accountable to big businesses and lobbyists.”