Congressional Incumbents On Both Sides Should Fear 2014

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The summary for a poll released last week by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal sums up the Nation’s disgust with Congress as a whole, as well as President Barack Obama:

Throw the bums out.

What other message can Washington hear from the results of recent polls? It’s fun to dismiss polls as meaningless, but there’s no dismissing the general Zeitgeist of utter disgust with Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the President revealed by poll after poll after poll after poll.

The NBC/WSJ poll provides perhaps the clearest synopsis of all the many post-shutdown attempts to gauge the extent of Americans’ frustrations because, along with the usual ad hominem questions about Barack Obama and Harry Reid and John Boehner and Ted Cruz, it asked people to think abstractly about Congress as a functioning entity.

“If there were a place on your ballot that allowed you to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including your own representative, would you do this, or not?” the poll inquired.

Sixty percent said “yes.” Only 35 percent said “no.”

Articles appeared Friday warning that Republicans had the most to fear from the latest batch of polls’ dire approval numbers.

“A new poll… highlighted public disgust with Congress over the government shutdown and debt deal fight, with Republicans taking much of the blame,” wrote The Hill’s Martin Trujillo. “Six in 10 people said they would defeat and replace every member of Congress if they could, including their own, a warning to members of both parties just a year before the midterm elections. But the news was the worst for Republicans.”

That may be true. And if it is, it’s richly deserved.

Voters as a bloc typically have the long-term memory of a cat, often forgetting or forgiving unpopular legislative acts less than a year before national elections. Does anyone remember that Obama had a 43 percent job approval rating only one year before getting re-elected? But in the present ineffectual climate that envelops Capitol Hill, incumbency is casting a pall around politicians from both parties. No member of Congress whose term is up for grabs in 2014 is safe from the volatility of the poison political atmosphere they themselves have helped to create.

Whether they skew left or right, media outlets that attempt (as MSNBC pathetically did last Thursday) to spin these bad-all-over polls as having a perceived benefit for one political party are fooling their readers. There’s a bounty of voter anger to go around, and 2014 can’t come soon enough.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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