The older gentlemen known as the founding fathers got most everything right. Most everything. As TheFundamentals has noted, these fellows had jobs, professions, callings, farms, plantations and other forms of revenue producing activities that we now call “careers.” They did not view their banding together to kick out the slimy Red Coats as a career. They did not view their debating and embryonic political braying as a career. They did not view their drafting of documents (note to the current 536 – the founders wrote, read and understood the documents they considered) as hourly work. They did the founding work pro bono. No pay, no overseas trips, no staffs of interns, no private coaches, no fancy meals paid for “by the people.” So how did we ever mutate into the group of fools who “serve the people” in the House of Representatives and the senate today?
Mostly safe districts and seniority. The founders did not see these distortions coming. Let’s look at safe districts and seniority. There are five dominant members (below) of the house in leadership positions and several more in key positions. The following data show the name, district, date first elected and the Obama/McCain vote split in the district. The nationwide popular vote for O v. M was 53 to 46%.
Representative - District - Elected - O v. M % - RLE
Nancy Pelosi - CA 8th - 06/02/1987 - 85 v. 12 - 5 Years
Barney Frank - MA 4th - 01/05/1981 - 64 v. 35 - 5 Years
Steny Hoyer - MD 5th - 05/19/1981 - 65 v. 33 - 5 Years
Henry Waxman - CA 30th - 01/14/1975 - 70 v. 28 - 5 Years
Charles Rangel (a) - NY 15th - 01/03/1971 - 93 v. 6 - 5 Years
There are several facts that jump out from this analysis. One, these five leaders of the party in power have been in their congressional office at least 22 years and as many as 38 years. They have virtually no real life (RLE) experience (see TheFundamentals July 29, 2009) working a job or profession where they are subject to market and competitive forces and the possibility of job termination with or without cause. And, very importantly, the popular presidential vote margin in their districts was at least 11 percentage points higher than the nation and as many as 40 percentage points higher. Simply stated, their districts DO NOT reflect national preferences.
The seniority system in congress is dominating but not absolute. There are a few examples of high seniority representatives not holding committee chairmanships or party leadership positions. Darn few. When either party gain a majority it gets to advance its senior members who, as displayed above, come from districts where there is little or no opposition party strength (the other side of issues can be discarded) and they end up writing legislation and dominating the debate. Bad situation for the country. Not noted by the founders. (By the way, it is a very bad situation for the organizer but we will address that issue later.) Requires two changes: one, term limit amendment to the USConstitution and substantial legislation enforcing the limit of jurisdiction of the national government to the eighteen designated powers enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 (see TheFundamentals June 8, 2009.) Reminder: The USConstitution limits the national government powers! Do you need to be a constitution lawyer or expert or professor to understand that simple fundamental?
(a) This gasbag runs the most powerful committee in the people’s house – Ways and Means. His district voted 93 – 6 for Obama. Google this guy and check out his taxpaying and rules following peccadilloes. He makes Geithner look like a choirboy.