With all the snafus and failures that have marred the 113th United States Congress, one might hope to find consolation in knowing that their term only lasts one more year, and that a majority will almost certainly be voted out due to their dismal performance – Americans give them a 10% approval rating, less favorable than a colonoscopy.
But the last time Congress had a 10% approval rating – just one term ago – 80% of the members of the House of Representatives were reelected. That is, in the 2012 elections, we invited back 349 of the 435 individuals who sat on a body whose job performance we cringed at more than the idea of a doctor sticking a tube up our rectums. These are the individuals who now comprise the majority of our current Congress.
Thus, when the polls open almost exactly a year from today on November 4th, 2014, there is no guarantee that a new leaf will be turned over.
Even more so because 2014 will be a Midterm election year – one in which a President is not on the ballot and in which voter turnout is sparse. Compared to the 57.5% voter turnout for the 2012 Presidential election, only 40.7% of eligible voters turned out for the last Midterm election in 2010. When voters don’t show up to hold their Congressmen accountable, it not only allows poor performers to retain their positions, but also encourages a climate of infallibility.
It’s easy to forget that the criticism we express on cable news and the disapproval we voice on social media occurs in an echo chamber that only reverberates back to us – it does not penetrate the conscience of Congress. What matters to a Congressman are votes. And as long as our criticism and disapproval does not translate into votes for an opponent, they needn’t be concerned with our sentiment. When we vote back 80% of the House in 10% approved Congress, we reassure them that they are right not to be concerned.
Congress often has more power than the President to determine the fate of our country, as events of the past year have starkly demonstrated. When November 4th rolls around next year, Americans would be wise to cast a ballot and hold their Congressman accountable for his performance.
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