Incumbent congressmen have many advantages over their challengers. So many that after two terms their reelection rate goes from an incredible 98.5 percent to an untouchable 100 percent.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is their ability to use the power of the federal government for their friends and against their enemies. Recently Congressman Jay Dickey of Arkansas told a group of black farmers that he would not support a judgement in a lawsuit that the farmers had won against the Department of Agriculture. His reasoning? Dickey said, “You want us to take away from projects that serve our base and give it to people who not only don’t vote for you but work for your defeat?”
There you have it. The merits aren’t the concern here, but rather, how effectively various interest groups can be bribed for their votes. As one of Dickey’s opponents said: “It shows what kind of man Mr. Dickey is, that they have to prove they are going to help him get elected before he will provide representation for them.”
Now we can see why politicians who seek a career tend to want an ever bigger and more powerful federal government. They can wield that power to protect a lifelong ride on the congressional gravy train.
A representative should do the right thing whether it wins him votes or not. That means they need to view their service as a calling, not a career.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.