Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents

Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents

Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents

Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents

Synopsis

While many books detail how senators and representatives operate in Washington, this one describes how they stay in power. The congressional elections of 1998 were the most expensive in history. Incumbency reelection rates were 98.3 percent in the House and 89.7 percent in the Senate, and this was a typical outcome after Watergate-era campaign "reforms" supposedly reduced the influence of money in politics. From the unique vantage of credible citizen-candidates who ran against congressional incumbents from Massachusetts to Hawaii during the 1990s, Against Long Odds tackles the question of why incumbents nearly always win.

Excerpt

You would be surprised at the number of years it took me to see clearly what some of the problems were which had to be solved. . . . Looking back, I think it was more difficult to see what the problems were than to solve them.

--Charles Darwin

Against Long Odds can be read at many levels. It is first of all an exciting contemporary history of some immensely interesting political races; it is drama; it is political science. The book also tells very readable stories of courage, determination, and dedication; and treachery, cynicism, corruption, and idealism. Against Long Odds succeeds on all these levels--but it particularly fascinates me as a metaphor for the deep problems within our political system and our democracy. You cannot read this book without realizing that the survival of our democracy itself is ultimately at stake.

Significantly, voter participation fell below 50 percent in 1996 for the first time since 1924. Indeed, voter turnout has decreased twentyfive percentage points since 1961, with a significant decline (except for Republicans in the South) of both Democratic and GOP partisan registrations. So many local party organizations are just a shell of their . . .

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