Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

OPINION: Self-Interest Inhibits Government Reform

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

OPINION: Self-Interest Inhibits Government Reform

Article excerpt

It's a seeming paradox. Americans say they are discontent with Congress, yet return their incumbent congressmen and senators to office. And nowadays people are even saying that their own congressman or senator should be kicked out of office -- but they aren't.

This isn't anything new. The trend has been steady for 50 years, and it leaves people scratching their heads when they read polling data.

The polling data may not reveal some of the reasons. First, no matter how bad an incumbent can look, a challenger can still look worse. If elections were a yes or no referendum on whether to keep the incumbent, more incumbents might lose. But they are races between two people.

At this point in history, the news media, for the most part, have a vested interest in laying the blame for the nation's problems completely on Congress. Much of the media leans heavily toward President Barack Obama, and if Congress doesn't get the blame, he will. When election time rolls around and voters start considering who really is accountable, perhaps Congress doesn't look as bad. …

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