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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.
CHANGE THE WORLD - VOTE THEM OUT