If Congress is so bad, why won't Americans throw the bums out?
By Mark Tapscott | August 14, 2014 | 9:03 am
Something profoundly important about America was altered in the years following the Civil War, something far more significant than even slavery, secession or state's rights.
For reasons that remain inexplicable to this day -- if only because they are rarely, if ever, discussed -- Congress was transformed from an assembly of private citizens devoting a few years to serving their fellow citizens to a host of career politicians critics see as mostly serving themselves.
This change has been graphically documented as never before in an innovative way today by Luke Rosiak of the Washington Examiner's watchdog investigative reporting team.
Throw the bums out?
Rosiak plotted the time served by senators and representatives for every Congress going back to the nation's founding.
What he found is the abrupt and amazing change in how Americans viewed their congressmen during and after the Civil War.
In 1820, only one member of Congress had ever served 30 or more years in office. Only eight members had been in Congress for 20 or more years.
Then in 1870, only five years after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, nobody in Congress had been there 20 or more years.
But then in 1882, the trend line of congressional incumbency began a steady march upward to the present. In that year, 12 members had been in office for at least 20 years, while two had served 30 or more years.
By 1900, 26 members were veterans of 20 or more years in Congress, while another seven had been in office for 30 or more years.
In the 1946 elections, the first following FDR's death in 1945 and the first peacetime balloting since before Pearl Harbor, 69 members were 20+ year-veterans and 21 had served for 30 or more years.
The Watergate decade
Since the Civil War, there has been only one decade in which each congressional election saw a decline in the number of members with 20 or more years in office.
In 1972, the year President Richard Nixon was swept back into office for a second term, 124 members had been in Congress 20 or more years, while 40 had three decades or more in office.
A decade later, those numbers declined to 72 and 22, respectively. It's been uphill -- or downhill, depending upon your perspective -- ever since.http://washingtonexaminer.com/if-congress-is-so-bad-why-wont-americans-throw-the-bums-out/article/2552014