We elect representatives to draft the laws that govern our nation, but increasingly they are becoming glorified gofers for the federal bureaucracy. Why? In a word: votes. Votes, votes, votes.
Jerry Kammer with the Arizona Republic reports that “as [congressional incumbents] plan for their next election, nothing is more important than what their staffs accomplish for constituents whose Social Security checks haven’t arrived, whose military discharge papers have been lost or who are lost in the bureaucratic alphabet soup of agencies. . . . When senior congressional staff members were asked a few years ago what part of their work was most important to their bosses’ political futures, 56 percent identified constituent service. Only 11 percent pointed to the legislative record.”
Marlo Lewis of the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation adds that constituent service is one more way that “our politics has become kind of an incumbency-protection machine in which the rules of the game are structured for the benefit of those who hold power . . .”
Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker points out, “[Constituent service] lets the members be seen . . . as friends . . . who can do you a favor.” And favors mean votes. So career politicians seek to be your special connection, to do you the favor of saving you from the bureaucracy they themselves have created, and allowed to run wild. Voters are so happy to get their government-created problem unsnarled, they forget who created it in the first place.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.