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The House: Encumbered by Incumbents
November 3, 2000 12:03 PM   Subscribe

The House: Encumbered by Incumbents While the big prize is still up for grabs, plenty of pols will stroll into another four years of fun in DC. With a 97% rate of incumbent re-election, in spite of Michael Moore's best efforts, is it time to separate the presidential and congressional polls, so that there's a decent debate over the direction of the legislative branch?
posted by holgate (15 comments total)

 
Of course this thought makes sense, and if they were somehow to make the campaign season a little shorter (do we really need 18 months to pick between two or three people?), they could even hold the congressional races in odd-numbered years and all the respective branches would get the public and media focus and examination they require and deserve, and the voting public wouldn't suffer from Constant Relentless Election Burnout Syndrome (CREBS).
posted by chicobangs at 1:29 PM on November 3, 2000


And about ten people would vote.
posted by dhartung at 2:03 PM on November 3, 2000


This is one reason I support a Constitutional amendment to limit the terms of federal legislators. I think 12 years is plenty in the House or the Senate. Who's with me?
posted by daveadams at 2:25 PM on November 3, 2000


umm...how about these guys?
posted by lescour at 3:28 PM on November 3, 2000


I'm in favor of banning all polls, frankly. All they do is let people cast their vote based on who everyone else seems to be voting for. This is not a method of selecting a candidate that any of the Founding Fathers had in mind, I'm sure. We've seen a steady decline in the quality of our leaders since the advent of TV campaigning and polling, and I think both are directly responsible for that decline.

At the very least no election-day projections should be permitted; the last thing we need is late voters in California being told that their votes aren't needed because the President has already apparently swept enough states east of them to get elected.

posted by kindall at 1:14 PM on November 4, 2000


I'm in favor of banning all polls, frankly. All they do is let people cast their vote based on who everyone else seems to be voting for.

If this idea didn't make hash of the freedom of the press, I'd be all for it. Instant continuous polling makes me sick.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:59 PM on November 4, 2000


I hear we already have term limits. They're called elections.
posted by dhartung at 10:22 PM on November 4, 2000


From Ficus2000:

The Congressional seat in New Jersey's 11th District, which covers Morris County and part of Essex County - and is inhabited by the state's highest income earners - is currently held by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a three-term Republican, and the thirteenth wealthiest member of Congress. Frelinghuysen's father once held the same seat and, since 1793, New Jersey has sent six Frelinghuysens to Congress -- four to the U.S. Senate and two to the House of Representatives.

He's going to be elected unopposed on Tuesday.
posted by holgate at 6:53 AM on November 5, 2000


Freedom of the press is not unlimited. You're not allowed to print or broadcast whatever you want with reckless disregard for the truth, and you shouldn't be allowed to print or broadcast whatever you want with reckless disregard for democracy, either. Of course, the former is a civil matter, so maybe the latter should be too. Who's with me on a class-action suit against the major news organizations for undermining the democratic process?
posted by kindall at 7:55 PM on November 5, 2000


Yeah, besides all the unopposed incumbents (who have a tremendous advantage in fund-raising), there's some value to getting new people in every once in a while. Dan, do you think we should get rid of the term limit for the president? I'm rather happy with it.
posted by daveadams at 7:57 PM on November 5, 2000


Although I recognize much of the incumbant's success in re-elections is attributable to the power they have as an officeholder, I also think it's kind of silly to be surprised that people would repeatedly re-elect someone they like.

If the majority of people think Senator A is the best person running for office in a given year, it's likely that a majority would think he's the best person running six years later.


posted by straight at 8:10 AM on November 6, 2000


If the majority of people think Senator A is the best person running for office in a given year, it's likely that a majority would think he's the best person running six years later.

From what I've seen, Senate elections are rarely uncontested, because those two seats per state are pretty damn desireable. (There are the odd exceptions, such as Ted fucking Kennedy, but they're rare indeed.) But House seats are basically rotten boroughs: the fiefdoms of one party, and often one family. It's that incumbents are in a position not to have to defend their four years' tenure which annoys me from my transatlantic perspective: even the most one-sided constituencies in Britain are contested by the major parties, usually as a means of "blooding" inexperienced candidates in the art of campaigning.
posted by holgate at 9:05 AM on November 6, 2000


Holgate, representatives have to defend every two years.

straight, sure the incumbent may be a better candidate. But a lot of other candidates don't make a serious (or any at all) challenge if an incumbent is running. What if there's a better candidate from the same party? Oftentimes they won't even run against the incumbent. If we didn't have the restriction on presidential terms, Bill Clinton would have run again and easily taken the Democratic nomination. Not that Al had that much competition either... But I doubt even Bill Bradley would have run against Clinton. At least they had that choice.
posted by daveadams at 9:51 AM on November 6, 2000


If we didn't have the restriction on presidential terms, Bill Clinton would have run again and easily taken the Democratic nomination. Not that Al had that much competition either...But I doubt even Bill Bradley would have run against Clinton. At least they had that choice.

So you're saying it's a good thing that maybe more people would've voted for Clinton than for Gore or Bradley, but thanks to term limits they got the "choice" between Gore and Bradley?

If people wanted Gore for President, they could have voted for him instead of Clinton when he was running in '92. (At least I think he was in the primary race in '92 - but you see my point, anyway.)
posted by straight at 12:46 PM on November 6, 2000


So, straight, do you support amending the constitution to get rid of the Presidential term limit?
posted by daveadams at 2:06 PM on November 6, 2000


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