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Sun

26

Oct

2008

The Crime of Incumbency
Sunday, 26 October 2008 00:57
by James McEnteer

In poll results released Sunday, Rasmussen Reports says that 59 % of American voters would like to replace the entire Congress. This is an understandable and worthwhile goal. Last week Congress passed a massive financial bailout favored by only 30 % of voters. This is but the latest anti-democratic insult to the U.S. citizenry by a legislative body Bill Moyers has called “a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America.”

Despite the president’s record low approval rating, surveys that reveal more than 80 % of Americans think the country is headed the wrong way and almost as high a percentage who believe the war in Iraq is “a mistake,” Congress has consistently enabled all these horrors, even with the Democratic majority that entered the House and Senate in 2006.

We have – perhaps – finally understood that it is time to reverse the lazy voting habits that provide U.S. politicians with a higher rate of return to office than the apparatchiks of the old Soviet politburo. It is time to hose down the Augean stables of politics-as-usual. Throw the rascals out, every single one of them. Political party affiliation must no longer be the criterion for electing officials. Incumbency is the only crime that matters.

That same Rasmussen poll shows that only 49 % of voters “believe that the current Congress is better than individuals selected at random from the phone book.” Right. Fed up does not begin to describe it. This is a great chance to clean House – all of it – and make a rousing start in the Senate. It really matters much less who comes in than who goes out: everyone associated with the last two, four, six, eight or more years of legislative malfeasance and governmental dread. No one who has ever been wined or dined by corporate lobbyists or aspires to become such a creature (a la Trent Lott) should be eligible to return to Washington suck up more swill from the public trough.

An old Berzerkley bumper sticker said: Nobody For President. In a spirit of phonebook populism I say: Anybody (Else) For Congress.

Nancy Pelosi is a prime target, a Bush enabler extraordinaire, despite the wishes of her San Francisco constituency. She took impeachment off the table. Let’s take her off the menu. She voted to bail out the fat cats. Let’s throw her overboard. Cindy Sheehan is running for Pelosi’s seat on an independent ticket. Perfect. Republicans and Democrats should be replaced by third, fourth or fifth party candidates wherever possible. Members of the two dominant parties are tainted a priori with guilt by association. They cannot hear the voices of anyone but their own corporate patrons. Raus, bitte.

“If they’re in, toss ‘em out,” could be a catchphrase of the anti-incumbency movement. It is clearly already a movement in American hearts, simply in need of national co-ordination. Bye-bye, Mitch McConnell and Barney Frank. Adios, Dan Burton and John Boehner. Don’t let the swinging door hit your butt on the way out, Steny Hoyer and Ted Stevens. Here’s your hat and what’s your hurry, Roy Blunt and Connie Mack. Get ready for that heavenly Roll Call, John Murtha and Tom Tancredo…

What a glorious vision, all those lifer political hacks filing off into a well-deserved oblivion like the legislative lemmings they are. Halle-flippin-lujah. Time for Mr. Smith to come back to Washington and drive the toads out of Toad Hall. Let’s grab pitchforks and torches, head for the voting booths and scourge the incumbent monsters from our political landscape while we still possess the power to do so.

James McEnteer is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Political Documentaries (Praeger 2006). He lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
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