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In ’08, 92% of House members kept their seats

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House re-election percentages by year

House re-election percentages by year

If you have ever wondered by Congress seems to ignore your needs and wishes, it may be because they feel their seats are safe. In other words, they don’t have to compete in open competition for their seat. This chart shows that over 90% of House members have been re-elected time after time, often for many decades. While this kind of experience can work for the people, it also embodies severe drawbacks in that those decades long members lose thier connection to the common people whom they were elected to represent.

Everyone has heard the euphemism of “inside the beltway.” When representatives spend so much time within the Washington beltway, they begin to think of themselves as special or forget the travails and trials which ordinary people must endure. They gladly accept large lobbyist donations to their individual PACs that they spend any way they choose in order to live a better, more elaborate lifestyle. They gladly accept corporate and lobbyist donations to their re-election campaigns to ward off competitors from both their own party as well as the opposing party. Remember the much reported stories of Tom Delay walking through the House handing out checks from K St. lobbyists?

Does anyone believe that those donations are not a bribe?

But worst of all is the complicity of the states. In drawing districts that favors one party over another, only one party has a chance to win that seat. The only competition for that seat comes from within the same party, and usually that competition is from the further extremes of the party.

That kind of representation is not what the Founders had in mind when they designed the Federal government. They believed that each member of the Congress would serve a few years at a nominal salary and then return home. They never envisioned professional politicians who would spend their entire working lives in the same or better political office.

Nor did they envision Congressional districts being drawn to create “safe seats.” Nor did they envision the institutionalized lobbying known as “K St.” such as exists today with Congressional members and aides moving from Congress to multi-million dollar lobbying jobs and using their contacts within Congress to enrich themselves, often at the expense of the American people.

The state-mandated gerrymandering which creates “safe seats” is anathema to republican democracy. Simply put, it’s wrong. It’s a perversion of the republican democratic process. The system devised by our Founders has been perverted to enrich the few at the expense of the many.

It’s long past time to take our republican democracy back! Demand an end to gerrymandering.


Written by Valerie Curl

October 21, 2009 at 12:40 PM

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