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Over Half of the Country Wants Congress Gone

August 31, 2009
Over Half the Country Wants Congress Gone

Results of a new Rasmussen poll released on Sunday, August 30, 2009 show that 57% of Americans would like to see every single member of Congress replaced. Only 25% of Americans would like to see current members stay in their seats, with 18% unsure.

So, what are we waiting for?

To break it down by party, those who vote Democrat are more supportive of our current legislators, which is not surprising considering Democrats currently occupy the majority in both the House and the Senate, and of course, there is a Democrat in the White House. On the other hand, it’s not surprising at all that Republicans would like to see the largely Democratic Congress gone, but what may come as a bit of a surprise is that the GOP isn’t exactly thrilled with its own representation.

70% of people not affiliated with either major party would like to see a complete Congressional overhaul.  That number is up from last year’s 62%.

So, with a majority of Americans wishing for new representatives, why does, as the Rasmussen article point out, 90% of Congress get reelected each year? There are many arguments for this. One is that many people love their own representatives, they just hate Congress as a whole. (A case for more states’ rights if I’ve ever heard one but that’s a rant for another day.) Another is that once someone is in an elected office, they suddenly have many more resources available to them than your average person off the street. Name recognition and visibility become major factors. Financial contributions, which some will argue are the key to any successful campaign, are greater for incumbents. As a matter of fact, in 2004, Incumbents in the House of Representatives raised $456,859,509 for their own campaigns vs. $112,498,172 raised by challengers. Kind of makes you wonder why they can’t put that much effort into raising money to take care of our national debt.

But I think the real problem lies within the 18% of Americans mentioned last in the poll: the unsure’s, the undecided’s, and the uneducated’s. Could these people be setting the country up for disaster? Our country was founded because  people had strong opinions, beliefs and values about how government and a society should be run, not because people were too tired or busy to keep up. These days, only about half of the voting-age population turns out to vote in federal elections and only about a third during non-Presidential election years. And even then, many of those people don’t understand who or what they’re voting for.

During the 2008 election, when Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, who has held that position in the state’s 12th district since 1974, called his constituents “racists” and “rednecks,” many of us were certain that he would be boosted from office without a second thought. I remember asking a friend of mine who actually lives in that area what she thought of the remarks. She replied, “Who’s John Murtha?” Murtha, who has also been voted one of the twenty most corrupt members of Congress, went on to win his district, once again, with almost 60% of the vote.

And it wasn’t just Murtha. Apathy and ignorance were rampant during the 2008 election. So many voters relied on biased media reports to guide their decision-making without taking the time to research candidates for themselves. Numerous polls and interviews conducted after the election proved that not only were people completely clueless about why they were voting for certain candidates, but they were often voting for the candidate who stood against everything they believed in. 

I wonder how many people know how many members of Congress are currently, or have been in the last year, under investigation? I wonder how many people know what percentage of of their Represenatives have been caught lying on personal finance disclosure forms or providing large campaign donors with special favors and earmarks?  On the other hand, I wonder if there is a single member of Congress who has not in some way abused their power?  I wonder how many members of Congress are there simply beause they believe in this country, its people, and our Constitution and not in advancing their own agendas or their own names through a history book?

We can only hope that more people start to wake-up and take notice in 2010.  It’s time to act beyond letting our thoughts and feelings be known in a survey or poll and get this country back on track. 

Here are some more findings from the survey:

  • 59% of voters believe that Congress is overpaid.
  • 74% trust their own judgment more so than that of their representatives
  • Just 22% feels Congress understands the latest health care legislation.
  • Only 14% of people would give Congress or a “good” or “excellent performance rating
  • 75% of people feel members of Congress are more interested in their own careers vs. helping their constituents.
  • 37% of people say most members of Congress have extramarital affairs
  • 57% of Americans feel that big political donors get “more than their money back” in terms of favors
  • 50% of voters say “rigged” election rules explain Congress’ high reelection rate
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