Do You Want to Change the World? Don't Reelect Your Congressman


Do the one thing that is within your power:

Don't reelect your congressman and senators.

This: you control. Nobody but you.

There is so much going on in the world over which you are powerless. International wars. Starving children. The world wide nuclear threat. What can one person do? The simple answer is: not much.

What the individual can do is remove the person representing them in Washington, D.C. We complain about politics. We complain about the government. We complain about Congress - as a group. But more often than not, we Americans send our representatives back year after year. It's like the definition of insanity. We do the same thing over and over, expecting something to change. News Flash: It won't.

People hate Congress but love (or tolerate) their own representatives. Why? Are we not paying attention to how our congressmen and senators are voting? Are we not calling, writing letters, sending emails to let these elected representatives know our opinions on the issues? Or have we simply drunk the Kool-Aid and followed blindly, like sheep to the slaughter?

America has an amazing system of government. Contrary to public opinion, the majority does not rule in this country. We don't take a national vote on our issues every day. We have a representative form of government. We elect others to defend our views and values in Congress. Each individual has two senators from their state at large out of the one hundred in that house and one congressman from their immediate community in that house. Three people. And we tend to keep the same three guys (yes, guys, rarely gals) up in Washington year after year, decade after decade. And all the while we complain that Congress, that big, impersonal, unknowable entity, fails to do what we want year after year, decade after decade. Why?

Our amazing system of government allows us the opportunity to force a revolution every two years in the House of Representatives (that one congressmen from our community) and every six years in the Senate (those state-wide two.) We don't have to raise an army. We don't have to riot in the streets. We just have to vote them out. Send someone else. Give another person the opportunity to represent us. And if they don't do a better job than the last guy (or gal), next election, vote them out too.

But we don't. Historically, we don't. In this generation we have sent the same people back to Congress more than 90 percent of the time. Nationwide, less than 10 incumbents lose their House of Representative seats every two years.

In the Senate the rate of reelection is close to 96 percent.

Why do we do this time and time again?

Primarily because, once we have elected someone to Congress, we allow them to make their number one priority in that job to be getting reelected to that job. We give them a staff to reach out to their constituents on a daily basis building a bond of public relations both in Washington and in the local district. We give them access to their party's national political machine with its deep pockets and fund-raising resources. We give them the perks of office that facilitate their ability to obliterate any opposition: free postage, public forums, auto-telephone marketing, travel budgets, and unlimited control of how they spend their time. If they decide to spend eight hours of every work day campaigning, we say, that's fine with us. As far as we are concerned, getting reelected is a legitimate part of their job description. And they make it their entire job description.

Another reason we tend to reelect the same representatives time and time again is that a large percentage of our elected officials are independently wealthy, with unlimited personal resources to support their reelection campaigns. The Center for Responsive Politics reports about 47 percent of Congress are millionaires. In 2010, the Federal Reserve Board set the median net worth of a congressman at $513,000 (as many are worth more than this amount and as many are worth less.) The median worth for American households was $120,000 in 2008, probably nearer $100,000 this year according to economist David Rosnick.

Sheila Krumholz at the Center For Responsive Politics states,Few Americans enjoy the same financial cushions maintained by most members of Congress — or the same access to market-altering information that could yield personal, financial gains.”

Every two years is an election year somewhere in our government. It is our right as Americans to elect our representatives, our congressmen. Thousands of good men and women have given their lives to purchase this freedom for us to choose. Use it. Vote in some one else to represent you. Change the world. You can.

Note: You have to register to vote. If you have moved out of your polling district since the last time you voted, you have to re-register. If you have moved out of the last county where you voted, you have to re-register. If you haven't voted in many years your polling place may have changed. You can check on line with your county government or call your county's registrar. The deadline to register is usually about six weeks before election day.


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Comments 57 comments

yellowstone8750 profile image

yellowstone8750 5 years ago from Taos, nm

We all have a case of consenual apathy.The question is, how do you make people care? One person can do nothing..sort of. You are correct...we...all of us are to blame.

Figure out how to make people care and you can cure the world. Good question to ask.

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tonyduxburyuk 5 years ago from Rotherham, south yorkshire, england

Kathleen, what you state is the obvious, but it certainly needs stating again and again. I'm from england, but it the same kind of representative system. We commit the same stupidity at almost every election. The situation here is the same, politicions have run out of ideas and are too scared to venture new ones or lack imagination.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

Kath - I keep writing that We, the People..." have become "They, Themselves..." to this pack of corrupt, professional pick pockets. The real crime is the apathy that lets them continue to pick the tax payer's bones. After a while all that is left is the carcass.

The Frog

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frog Prince, tonyduxburyuk,niall.tubbs and yellowstone8750: Thanks for the read and the comments. Wish they had a vaccine, not even for apathy, for being played - year after year. Thanks for the comments - especially from my new English friend!

Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 5 years ago from Idaho

Very True! I think we should also vote with our dollars and buy local. Let's stop funding the corporations that buy the agencies, policies, and politicians. Voting up!

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jennifer: So good to meet you! Thanks for the comment. YES to local!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Excellent Hub. You are right on the mark. The fact that we re-elect the very people we so often complain about is an absolute shame. I appreciate the citations and links and the facts and figure about our representatives personal wealth. I had no idea; I should have, but I didn't.

It is no wonder that the "wealthy in congress" keep voting tax breaks and benefits for the wealthy, while continually squeezing out the middle class. Thanks.

JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

It is a very good hub.


moonstruck4ever profile image

moonstruck4ever 5 years ago from somewhere in upstate New York

Very right on Kathleen! Good hub!

I will be following you and voted up and kudos!!

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

moonstruck4ever: Welcome to my hubs! Thanks for the comments. Your name seems familiar. I'll have to look at your hubs. I think I've already read some! Merry!

gjfalcone profile image

gjfalcone 5 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

Thanks for Sharing this hub Kathleen. You've touched on all the points regarding tough solutions to change the current state of affairs of our elected officials. I agree with your message of an informed electorate. Going forward, we must confront the issue of how to deal with Money as a form of speech.

I voted ^, interesting, useful and awesome and I am compelled to share this hub.

Lawrence Da-vid profile image

Lawrence Da-vid 5 years ago

I also thank you Kathleen for your article. Voters vote for a party rather than the possible politician. They never research background history. Only after they are elected to office and spend more than one term in office, are their peccadillo's, mis-conduct, treasonous actions surfacing. I for one support the idea that anyone entering the political arena, throw his or her hat in the pile. Prior to their running for office, an FBI, NAC, NSA check be performed on their history. And I do mean a extra hard deep look. Only then, after they pass those checks, are they permitted to run. Still you have those that get corrupted by their office from decades of re-election without question.

peoplepower73 profile image

peoplepower73 5 years ago from Placentia California

Amen Kathleen,very well said. There is one more factor and that is special interests. Even though many congressman are very wealthy, they get big time donations and funding from Super PACs that create ads that brainwash the public into getting them re-elected. Keep up the good work.

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

This is great. Everyone is so concerned by choosing a President (also very important!) but I don't think people fully realize how much impact their local government leaders have on their everyday lives.

A wonderful hub! I'm posting this on my Facebook!

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Sooner28 5 years ago

I wish I could agree. But not EVERY Congressperson is corrupt. Bernie Sanders is a committed socialist, but he is honest. Ron Paul is a committed libertarian, and honest also. The reason to vote either of these two out would be pure ideology, not corruption. And I'm sure there are more members I'm just ignorant of that are good people too. However, the majority probably are corrupt, so this advice is worth considering. Good article.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks for all this great feedback. Y'all are all new to my hubs - welcome. Plan to take a look at your work too. Sooner28 - no, not every Congressperson is corrupt, but you can only control the ones who represent you so we need to pay attention to this folks not just at election time. Suspect I'm preaching to the choir with you. Thanks for your interest.

gjfalcone profile image

gjfalcone 5 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

Hey, come on, 'Y'all'...really? Kathleen...

Great hub, having a little moderate fun is all

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Y'all is the vernacular where I live. I'll have to try to remember to use You Guys from now on! Or should I make it Yous Guys?

Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

Oh my gosh! I love this hub. I get so tired of people complaining and then voting for the same guy. My town has continuously elected the same major since the 1970s. Everyone complains all the time, but then they go right back and vote for him. It's absurd. Voted up and awesome.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Makes you wonder why folks don't get it. Thanks for the comments.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Y'all is the vernacular where I live. I'll have to try to remember to use You Guys from now on! Or should I make it Yous Guys? Thanks for standing on my spot of earth for a moment. I can try in the future to be more generic!

Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

I have this thought: Vote for anyone BUT a Democrat or Republican.

Also, we all need to act fast. New laws are strengthening their powerhold. People are well aware of decades of gerrymandering and other maneuvers used by Dems and Repubs alike to strengthen party power. The people understand less that manipulations of law are also being conducted for "them" as a collective to strengthen their power over "us", the free people.

Socialism and communism are simply systems to transfer all the power and wealth to a very select few.

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada


Truly excellent hub and timely reminder to kick "the bastards out!" I have always wondered how people can call every member of Congress a thief and a scum-bag but...not theirs? You have certainly pinpointed many of the reasons why that is the case!



PS...Voting Up and sharing!

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Man from Modesto: Interesting take on Socialism and Communism that is no doubt true. Starting to think the same of Democracy but still hoping we rise to the challenge and either outlive or outsmart this generation of politicians.

Thomas: Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing. If only we could get this messege out.

Matt Weeks profile image

Matt Weeks 4 years ago from Burlington, NJ

The classic phenomenon of American politics where "everyone else's Congressman is a bum except mine". It never seems to go away no matter how despised the legislature is.

Excellent hub!

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Matt. I keep waiting for someone to comment who disagrees. You know, somebody always disagrees. Apparently not this time. So why can't we get rid of these guys and start fresh? I wonder if it would make a difference.

michiganman567 profile image

michiganman567 4 years ago from Michigan

Great hub. I will be voting against mine (if I vote). There is a president that we can vote out too. 75% of Presidents have served a second term since 1980. It is hard to remove an incumbent.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

It certainly is. My policy is never to vote for an incumbent in any election. I say let another crook have a turn.

I probably won't be voting this November either. I'm not a republican but I live in the state of Georgia, a state that will undoubtedly go republican, so why bother?

Thanks for the read and for taking the trouble to comment. Welcome to my hubs michiganman567!

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Kathleen, and what a powerful hub this is. You make such an eloquent point in saying "majority does not rule" which is something that many people think. Once we elect an official, we then have to make sure they don't fall sleep on the job, if you know what I mean.

Great hub. Voted up and away


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks John and welcome to my hubs.

Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)


Do we still have a democracy? What is the de facto situation, aside from the paper position. When I was a teen, I remember "Keeping the world safe for democracy." More recently, I hear people altering perceptions of your government, calling us a FEDERAL republic. Their emphasis, of course, is on the power of a central, federal government.

ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

No incumbents, no nesters.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

ib radmasters: Welcome to my hubs. Couldn't have said it better myself! Thanks for commenting.

lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 4 years ago from Central Virginia

Well Kathleen, you certainly get it. It's too bad 90% of the population has missed it. I am convinced that we need term limits and, that these positions should be volunteers (public servants). It would weed out the ones that really care from the ones that are only running to further their own careers and agenda. Great hub! I hope it gets a ton of traffic. I am certainly going to share it.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Congressmen as volunteers? What an interesting concept. And you know? I'll bet plenty of folks would still run because most insiders would tell us it is really all about the perks of office anyway. We'll never live to see this option, but it would certainly be interesting. Thanks for taking the time to include your ideas.

peoplepower73 profile image

peoplepower73 4 years ago from Placentia California

I agree with everything you say in your hub. Our government is not representation by the people but by big money interest. It's voting by the people, because that is the way the system is set up. If you call your congressman for an issue and a lobbyist with tons of money to back his interests calls the same congressman who do you think will get the attention. The only time the congressman wants the attention of the people is for the vote to get re-elected. Good hub, voting up, useful and sharing.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Wow! If I had seen this one before election day I would have printed it up and handed it out!!

What a great wake up is the issue...these fat cats can afford to mow down the competition because we give them the power and they have the money...

Time to stand up and be heard, vote them out.

Voted this up, useful, interesting and shared.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

You are so right here! Most of our representatives, senators and congressmen care more about the money and the prestige than they care about the people. They are good at telling us what we want to hear, but not following up. We need to be more proactive. Great hub! Voting up and awesome! :)

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tillsontitan and sgbrown: Thanks for the comments and the encouragement. I wish I could bottle your enthusiasm and hand it out along with this hub. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. When will we ever learn?

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

peoplepower73: You make a very good point. We need to keep electing people who understand they are doing a public service not launching a profitable career. We don't need term limits; we need to use the power of the ballot.

Jerry Hulse profile image

Jerry Hulse 4 years ago from Kingsport, Tennessee

Very well written, voted up and common sense would prompt us to get liegislation passed to enact term limits for congressman who are building their own nest egg.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jerry Hulse: Welcome to my hubs. You've started with one that many people have expressed their opinions about over the past year. Thanks for your comments and I couldn't agree with you more.

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Hi, Kathleen - I'm not responsible for the election or reelection of Roger Wicker, R, Mississippi, as I wouldn't vote for him for animal control officer. Come to think of it, since he joined Ted Cruz to co-sponsor a bill I'm very strongly against, I consider Wicker the animal who needs to be controlled. I continually sign petitions targeted to him about issues that I know he will ignore, send him emails and speak to his office interns asking him not to support bills that I think are bad for this country and the majority of its citizens. He, in turn, sends me emails thanking me for my "support" and once sent me a letter essentially telling me I didn't know what I was talking about! If I can help get him out of office, believe me, I'll do my best.

Mississippi, a poor state with very poor leadership (and I use that last word guardedly), has far too many uneducated and undereducated voters, many of whose votes for Wicker and Cochran (the senior senator) are based on the "hot button" issues with which the GOP campaigns here (abortion and gay rights). There are also, sadly, still racists among both poor and affluent voters, although their biases exist for different reasons. The poor voters don't realize they're harming themselves economically when they keep these people in office, who vote against their best interests. They continue to vote entirely based on propaganda, much of it reinforced in church pulpits across the state.

Now that the Tea Party bullies have ground most of the government to a halt to further their political agenda, their actions are probably being seen in a new light by informed people across the country who will (hopefully) remember this time when they next step into voting booths. Not, however, in my home state. Nothing here ever changes. This makes me very sad and disillusioned.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jaye: I sooo sympathize. I live in the most conservative district in a county that has produced some of the most extreme congressmen in D.C., in the permanently red state, Georgia. All a candidate has to do is say he's pro-life and a republican and that's as far as the people here let their thinking take them.

In the current situation all I can suggest is that we "throw all the bums out" and start over with moderates who understand something about how to govern - not just die on a hill over one issue. And if they would conduct the people's business in a responsible way, then vote them out until candidates get the message that we hold them accountable to do their jobs or they will only serve one term.

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

You do understand!

I think this country needs a powerful grassroots effort to hold all Congressional representatives responsible for their actions. I also believe term limits are needed for everyone in Congress. Neither the House of Representatives or the Senate should be a lifetime career post.

I am so sick of the political infighting that results in less and less real governing in the U.S. My hope is that a majority of voters will come to feel the same way and take action to end it.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

We need to remember this week when election time comes around again, which for the House is every two years. Let's clean house and start over with new blood. And let's read the 25th Amendment that says Congress will make no law that they don't have to abide with like the rest of us.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


This is an awesome hub which all readers should find interesting and useful. Yes, the primary concern of every Congressperson is to get reelected! Your description of how they do is right on the mark. If more people took an interest in politics and studied the candidates before an election, I think we would have better people representing us. Voted up and sharing with followers. Also Pinning and sharing on Facebook.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Paul: Don't know if I've ever had a hub of mine "pinned"! I got pinned in college - is it kind of the same process? :)

Thanks for the encouragement. I've always said, when in doubt, don't vote for the incumbent. Now I think our default position should be not to vote for the incumbent. As my father in law used to say - let another crook have a turn. Hope I'm not that cynical yet, but he did have a point.

Jerry Hulse profile image

Jerry Hulse 3 years ago from Kingsport, Tennessee

Every elected official should have term limits ! voted up

MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

Awesome hub from the American point, but very applicable in Southeast Asia

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

MG Singh: It is fascinating to think other countries experience the same issues, but then, people are people everywhere.

poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 2 years ago

It really is too bad we don't throw the bums out more often.

Didn't Mark Twain describe congress as our own indigenous criminal class or something like that.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

poetryman6969: I'll have to look it up, but it sounds like Twain. Georgia had chance this month to do something of historic significance, because a Senator was retiring. But what did we do instead? We sent another rich, white man to Washington who will sit in that senate for decades, and nothing will change.

Thanks for your contribution to this hub!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 17 months ago from Long Island, NY

You're absolutely right. Most Americans never think about the fact that they have control over who serves in Congress. I had an interesting experience once when I was voting. I took a long time in the voting booth because I couldn't find my local officials whom I wanted to vote for on the ballot. They were there, but not easy to find.

So when I finished and came out, someone waiting on the line behind me complained that I took so long. Instead of ignoring her, I asked her if she knew who she was voting for for Congress. She looked at me puzzled and, after a pause, she said she was here to vote for the president.

I asked her if she liked our present senators and congressman. She said she only cared about getting her choice of president elected.

At that point I just said "good luck" and walked out. I knew she was a lost cause and not worth talking with. Unfortunately, as you indicated, too many people are like that.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 17 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

We get what we settle for. Most people have no idea what their representatives' voting records are, much less who their major contributors are. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 15 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

There's a question running right now on HP about term limits. I started to answer, then realized I'd just be rewriting this hub. So here it is again.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 months ago

Perhaps one day Kathleen, we could have a penalty for those who don't vote ? Even a tax break where all you have to do is show up and take a ballot, whether you fill it out or not ! This is an excellent hub ! Thank you for voicing something so clearly for us !.............Ed .

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