I think it was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing again and again, and expecting different results.
When it comes to the US Congress, Einstein would no doubt have considered American voters to be insane. We re-elect the same people time after time, yet are unhappy that nothing seems to change. With congressional approval at historical lows, the simplest answer is to simply “throw the bums out”… and that’s a valid, and currently popular, tactic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily give a voter the information needed to choose an alternative.
Furthermore, as bad as many incumbents obviously are, some of the challengers are worse — and that’s what led me to launch my little civics experiment last week. I wanted to find a single issue that people are interested in regardless of party affiliation (the economy) and a definable policy that many people understand (PAYGO).
I learned a lot:
I had responses from 8 of the 23 individual candidates. In other words, roughly 2/3 of all the candidates running in these elections felt no need to respond.
Of the 9 races (1 Senate, 8 House), only one incumbent responded. One! Talk about taking these elections (and the electorate) for granted!
Only one district has an unopposed candidate (CD 14), and he did not respond. Since this is my ballot option, I’m pretty annoyed.
The two Democrats who responded both committed to PAYGO.
Of the three Republican respondents, two committed (one as a clarification in the comments) and one did not.
None of the three responding Libertarians committed — but given their approach to government generally, I didn’t actually expect them to. In fact, I almost didn’t ask this group, and only did so in the interests of fair exposure. In retrospect, I’m glad I included them.
There were four congressional district races for which I received no response at all — a full half of the total. They are: CD 2, CD 9, CD 22, and CD 14. I’m thoroughly disgusted with them, incumbents and challengers alike.
PAYGO position statements from candidates running for US Senate, CD 7, CD 10, CD 18, and CD 29 — the five races for which I have data — are posted.
All in all, I’m glad I made the attempt.
Although everything I learned did not inspire, some of the actual responses were very clarifying. Not only that, but from the moment I posted the results this morning, people have been googling in from all over the area; I hope I’ve given them helpful data.
Remember: We’re only as voiceless (and insane) as we choose to be.