Congress Has “A Lower Approval Rating Than Polygamy”

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 26 2012 @ 1:21pm

But on average, more than 90 percent of incumbents win re-election. Leo Linbeck, whose Super PAC targets unpopular congressional incumbents in "safe" districts, outlines his case for restoring electoral accountability: 

It is ironic to recall that the Founders gave the power of the purse to the House of Representatives because, being more responsive to the people, it would protect their pocketbooks from the extravagances of the executive branch. For the first 100 years, it pretty much worked that way, with federal spending about 4 percent of GDP. Today the House is a spending machine—it spends $10 billion each day and more than 25 percent of GDP. Money can’t buy love, but it can buy power: in November 2010, Congress had an approval rating of just 17 percent, while the re-election rate in the House was 86 percent. This disconnect between approval and re-election rates is the clearest sign that the congressional accountability system is broken. …  With larger districts, primary elections, the greater influence of money, and a series of reforms that discouraged challengers, House members were freed from the accountability system that had held them in check. Incumbents used to be agents of the local party; today they are free agents. Incumbents used to be controlled by party bosses; today they are the party bosses.