It’s been conventional wisdom for a long time in the beltway that seniority is a plus. Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of of congress members get re-elected every cycle regardless, the few that don’t always prompt some kind of media shock. Here’s the Washington Post offering up another one of those, with a comment from a likely voter in California about seniority:
“I think we ought to kick ’em all out,” Bob Stevhens, 67, a retired real estate agent, said as he sipped iced tea at a downtown cafe this week. “The more seniority, the more apt I’d be to vote against ’em. Look at the results they’ve gotten us.”
The 2010 midterm elections can be interpreted any number of ways – President Obama and the Democrats overreached, the tea party movement is ascendant, the people are angry and angsty. But in the minds of voters here the calculus is much simpler: Things are bad and getting worse, so a change must be made. And another change, and another change until things get better.
By doing so, voters in districts like these are upending the once-inviolable notion that seniority – that most valuable of Washington commodities – is always to be treasured.
For someone so angry, who the reporter who talked to him probably thinks is just being cynical, he sure does attach a ton of trust to an inherently corrupt institution. “This politician is broken, let’s try another one!”
It’s easy to see why voters would be restless. Tracy boomed over the past decade as a bedroom community about 50 miles east of the San Francisco Bay, a place with pretty parks and new schools, where working people were able to afford entry to the middle class.
Never mind that the concept of a “bedroom community” itself is a side effect of our heavily subsidized car culture, which fostered the idea that long distance commuting was not only inevitable, but desired.
Today, Tracy – like Stockton and other nearby cities – is a national symbol of the foreclosure crisis. The housing market collapse has ravaged San Joaquin County. Nice new subdivisions have become untended foreclosure farms, big-box stores stand shuttered and the unemployment rate is a staggering 17.4 percent.
“I’m a Democrat, but I want a new congressman, somebody that will help us out,” Angela Singleton, 28, a Starbucks barista, said as she nursed a cafe latte during her break.
Singleton said she and her Army-veteran husband recently moved with their two children into a rental home after defaulting on their mortgage. “If they were listening to us in Washington, we’d have good jobs, we’d be in our house, we’d have a mortgage,” she said. “We had a mortgage that was $1,600 a month. But it skyrocketed to $1,900, and now we’re in foreclosure. They’re not listening.” (emphasis mine)
You know what lets me know whether not someone wants to help me? Them actually trying to help, that’s what. Running for office is a bit of a Rube Goldberg contraption for something so basic.
Even if there were SERIOUS, regular turnover in congress, it wouldn’t matter, it’d just be a more vigorous shuffling of the same deck. People want and seek political power for a reason, and that reason ain’t you. Feel free to keep headbutting that brick wall though, in the vain hope that someday it will move out of your way. I need the laugh.