Guest Post: Why Things Never Change

Submitted by Doug Ross of Director Blue blog,

Historical chart illustrates the biggest problem in America today: Congressional Recidivism

Many fine writers have observed that there exists a de facto Ruling Class in Washington. Once men and women get to Congress, no matter how inept, inane, or diabolical they prove to be, the power of incumbency makes dislodging them akin to prying a Reese's Cup from Michael Moore's pudgy fingers.

An exhaustive study -- "Reelection Rates of Incumbents in the U.S. House" (PDF) -- performed in 2006 illustrates the dramatic changes in reelection rates since America's founding. It aggregates the results of every House election cycle between the years 1790 and 2006.

Over the years, the reelection rate of incumbents has increased steadily, likely the results of pork, quid pro quo funding to campaign contributors, and legislative skulduggery (the McCain-Feingold bill, for instance, could have been called The Incumbent Protection Act):

Until the Woodrow Wilson era, incumbent reelection rates hovered between 70 and 80 percent. Since then, however, massive wealth redistribution programs at the federal level -- the New Deal, the Square Deal, the Fair Deal, Great Society, etc. -- began cementing incumbents in place. Constituents dependent upon federal largesse became permanently addicted to these programs and the incumbents who fueled them.

Had the various branches of government shown fidelity to the Constitution, none of these programs would have come to be.

Term limits are one option to resisting incessant federal power grabs, but so too would be leveling the playing field for challengers.

Only a return to Constitutional government will solve the Congressional Recidivism problem.