Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 9:52AM
political system at present. Congress's average approval rating since January of this year is 28% (44% is the highest and 13% is the lowest). In contrast, President Bush's approval rating over the same period averaged 30% (with a high of 36% and a low of 19%). Now I know what you're thinking, these numbers look pretty similar, and you're right they do. However, we must remember that in the 2006 midterm election the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress on a platform of change (which has become a strong theme for both Presidential candidates). The 2006 election was an historic election (complete Congressional control has only changed 3 other times since we began directly electing Senators in the early 20th century). The people of the United States voted strongly to end the "Republican Revolution", and what has it gotten us? Well, aside from a minimum wage hike, nothing. The incumbency re-election rate for the House of Representatives (since 1962) is 92.86%, the Senate (since 1964) is 81.54%. In the historic 2006 election, 94% of incumbents we re-elected to the House, along with 79% of their colleagues in the Senate. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of President Bush, I can certianly be counted among the 64% of Americans who do not approve of the job he is doing (or has done) as President. However, the problem is far more systemic than the inhabitant of 1600 Pensylvania Ave. The problem with Washington is systemic, add to that the Presidential candidates manage to convince the voters every 4-8 years that things will change, they never really do. We are going to have a new president, that is certain, but what no one is paying attention to are the Senators and Representatives who serve us is Congress. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't even recall seeing a political ad for the Congressional elections in my district, everything is Obama/McCain. The Congress is probably the most important branch in our government, and yet has the lowest turnover rate (hell some Supreme Court Justices, who are appointed for life serve shorter terms than some Senators/Representatives.) This election has centered around the theme of "Change". Obama claimed it, McCain has taken it over as of late and come November 5th, only one thing will most likely have changed. Either Senator McCain or Senator Obama will cease to be a Senator and will become President-Elect, while the loser will return to the Senate and prepare for his inevitable re-election in 2010. The real question is what the American people plan to do about this? Unfortunately the answer to that question is nothing. Voter turnout hasn't been over 60% since 1988, and while I think we will see over 60% turnout in 2008, my guess is that a healthy majority of those voters are under-informed and will vote straight-party tickets or vote based solely on their emotional reactions to specific candidates. We need to take back the political system in this country, and we need to do that by sending a message to Washington at the ballot box, by sending incumbents home and making sure that politicis ceases to be a career and returns to being a service. Personally, I have decided to not vote for any candidate that has served more than two full terms, regardless of party affiliation (hell, neither party represents me anyways, and independent/third-party candidates have no chance at being elected in our system). Who's with me?