Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The congressional races that aren't

Think you have a say in who serves in Congress? Think again.

The congressional races that aren't

You know about mid-term elections, right?

Low turnout. Bad for the party that holds the White House. It's what we call a trend. And it's likely to repeat this year.

But the other trend apparently getting ready to repeat is this: no competition.

The Washington Post notes in detail that there are only 30 races out of 435 (the entire U.S. House) worth calling races.

In all the rest, incumbents or front-runners have a 90-percent, or better, chance of winning.

(You can read The Post analysis here.)

Does this sound like a Democracy to you?

And, yeah, I know it's not really news but, come on.

You'd think in a nation of 318 million people who year after are subject to the kind of, um, leadership provided by Washington there'd be something of an awakening, no?

You'd think after watching election cycle after election cycle of sameness, enough citizens might say enough, no?

And you'd think somebody would at least try to bust the bubble of self-protective isolation that keeps the pay and perks pumping into the same pockets (and purses) of the gridlocked do-nothings that keep getting elected and reelected -- well, you get my point.

Yet here we are. Poised to do it all over again. Ready to continue the steady increase in the members of Congress serving longer and longer terms (check out the graph in The Post piece on historical tenure in Congress) while providing less and less real service to those who pay the tab.

Gerrymandered districts, the advantages of incumbency and campaign finance laws all contribute to this hot mess. As The Post notes, "they leave behind representatives who are serving longer tenures than ever, raising more and more money and becoming mostly immune to the day-to-day sways of public opinion."

But you know what? America needs to look in the mirror. Because as Thomas Jefferson put it, "We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate."

 

 

 

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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