Monday, April 12, 2010

How Congressmen Stack the Deck against Voters

Most American voters have a low opinion of Congress but feel that their own congressman deserves to be re-elected. There's an obvious disconnect here. Why? I think that it's mainly because, in each election, most voters let their congressmen control the election debate and the flow of communication.
By way of analogy, suppose you were a teacher, and you had 345 students—that's the number of congressmen there are in the U.S. House of Representatives. Think of elections as mid-term or final exams. As their teacher, how would you react if your students told you that there should be 345 separate sets of questions on the exam; and that each student would decide what questions he should be required to answer? Then how would you react if they suggested that each student should be allowed to grade his own paper?
Now you have a picture of how it is that almost all congressional incumbents are re-elected to a congress that most voters think is rotten. Most voters let the incumbents tell them which issues and which votes are relevant to the voters’ decisions as to whether he should be re-elected. Don't expect that the incumbent's opponent will do the job for you. Opponents also have their agenda. Who's making sure that your agenda is properly addressed in the election? If you aren't, nobody is.
In case you think this is an exaggeration, let me tell you about two incidents I experienced. During one election on which I'd help manage, I asked an experienced operative, “What are the issues in this campaign?”
She replied, “The issues are whatever you say they are.” Did you get that? In most cases, the voters don't decide what the issues are; the candidate and his campaign team decide.
On another occasion, I observed that taking a stand on a controversial issue loses a candidate support from those who disagree, but it doesn't gain support from those who agree with the candidate’s position. I asked, “How do you deal with a controversial issue?”
The answer was, “If anyone asks you, give your answer in a truthful but matter-of-fact manner. If you don't treat it as an important issue, neither will most voters.” Did you get that? In most cases, the voters don't decide how important an issue is; the candidates do.
When individual voters or groups try to make an issue of some of their congressmen’s votes in Congress, congressmen usually protest, “Those votes weren't representative of how I usually vote in Congress. You should look at all of my voting record.” He knows, of course, that nobody will do that because nobody has that much time on his hands. On the other hand, when the congressman tells you what he has been doing in Congress, he makes no attempt to tell you about all of his voting record—just the votes that will make him look good. Did you get that? He's saying that you, the voter, have no right to choose which votes to consider in judging his performance; only he has the right to do that.
Since you're reading this article, I must assume that you want to “take America back,” to use the popular catchphrase. Before we can do that, we have to take the responsibility of taking our elections back. For a change, each voter must put himself in the driver's seat.
You decide which issues are important to you, and you be the judge of your congressman’s performance. How does your congressman stack up? Here and here are web sites that may help you to decide:
There are many other resources on the Internet. I'll try to find a few more non-partisan, really useful sites for you between now and the November elections. As the saying goes, “A new broom sweeps clean.” This November, let's sweep the moneychangers from the temple.
Previous Page
Pray for wisdom in the 2010 congressional elections.
Click here: Light a Candle Endeavor

No comments:

Post a Comment