Politicians know well the adage, “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.”
Take redistricting, one reason the congressional reelection rate has been stuck at over 98 percent. Every ten years a census is taken and congressional seats are apportioned and new district lines are drawn. Our career congressmen worry about how these lines are drawn because they want to pick their voters before voters can pick them. That’s where the back-scratching comes in.
Redistricting is the province of state legislators; one reason congressmen try to be nice to them. Usually, state legislators go out of their way to set up district boundaries to protect sitting congressional careerists. Still, career politicians are worried that in 19 states with legislative term limits, these legislators won’t have enough “experience” to guarantee safe districts for the incumbents.
Of course, what they are even more worried about is the distinct possibility that term-limited state reps won’t care quite so much about protecting the political careers of un-term-limited congressmen from all manner of competition. In fact, now that term limits are taking effect in state legislatures and forcing seasoned campaigners out of office, more congressional incumbents are facing real challenges.
Three out of six incumbents who were defeated last November, were defeated by state legislators who had been pushed out by term limits. Yeah, what a tragedy if career politicians have to run for office in fairly drawn districts where real political competition might just break out all because of term limits. I’m crying in my soup here.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.