What Are We Going to Do About Incumbents We Hate? Not a Goddamn Thing


Poll after humorously pathetic poll this year has suggested that Congress is about as popular as a temporary but debilitating illness (it sucks, but it’s fun to wake up in a hospital room full of flowers!). So why don’t Americans just do the sensible thing and vote out incumbents? Because ¯_(ツ)_/¯, that’s why.

In what sounds like a microcosm of a lot of things wrong with how voters select their representatives, a study conducted by researchers at USC found that Californians are quite un-fond of their Senators, Democrats Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. In fact, 59% of voters wish somebody else would run.

But before you give the voting public credit for being informed of public servants’ positions with respect to the issues of the day, here’s another fact to chew on: the people USC studied didn’t really have a specific reason for disliking Boxer and Feinstein apart from the fact that they’d been in office for too long.

“I think they’re old,” said Rich Mettling, a 67-year-old retired regulatory analyst with Southern California Edison and a registered Democrat. “I’d like to see some fresh senatorial blood.”
“They don’t even sound like they’re engaged sometimes,” he said.
But Mettling, who lives in Burbank, added that he would never vote for a Republican to replace either Feinstein, 81, or Boxer, 73.

Because they’re not sure of what their representatives are doing and aren’t willing to vote for somebody else, they’ve opted for the least politically constructive means of coping: just sending wishes out into the universe that they’ll retire soon, so they can vote a new person into office. Star light, star bright.

Feinstein and Boxer have been important advocates during their tenures in office and I, for one, am glad that California voters that USC studied are fucking idiots who err on the side of not kicking good people out of office just because they’re tired of hearing their names over and over again, like it’s a song featuring the guitar stylings of Santana and this is the summer of 1999.

But the tendency to keep incumbents around forever despite not liking them, on a larger scale, is part of a political inertia that—paired with some pretty shameless but effective gerrymandering—has all but doomed us to a Republican-majority House of Representatives for what some arm-flailing analysts (and the New York Times’s Nate Cohn) predict might last as long as a “generation.” Low voter interest allows the fringe to sweep in a team of crazies during midterms, voter reticence to oust incumbents dooms us to hang onto at least a few of them.

And that, friends, is in a nutshell why this guy is now the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Heaven help us.

Image via Getty

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