AUBURN, AL- In a recent article, David Hawkings, the editor of Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call since 1995, laid out the 5 reasons for the malaise the afflicts the United States Congress.
While we may not agree with all of his points, it was nonetheless interesting that his first two coincided with issues Take Back Our Republic has devoted attention to: money and maps. Here is his full list with our brief summation:
- Money- With the costs of congressional races up 73% since 2000, Congress is increasingly an entity driven by the need to fundraise. As we have often pointed out, this means that chasing money affects both how elected officials spend their time as well as how they make policy.
- Maps- A consistent reduction in competitive congressional seats- this year, only 77 of 435- lends to the increasing polarization of the nation. With most officials needing only to “appeal to the base,” to win elections, there is less concern about Congress’ functionality.
- Media- Hawkings points to the fact that there is less media personnel from members’ home states/districts in Washington holding officials accountable and mentions the decreasing interest of citizens in seeing/reading/hearing alternative views in the media. Both of these issues are of concern, and we would also argue that the media also is to blame to some degree for the public’s declining trust.
- Mingling- Increasing partisanship leads to less cooperation and fewer relationships across the aisle from members. With fewer members even talking to those on the other side, there is little chance of Republicans and Democrats working together to solve big problems.
- Masochism- Believing there is a defeatism in Congress, Hawkings argues that expectations have been lowered, newly elected enter Washington already opposed to the institution, and an effort to cut costs has led to fewer and less qualified staffs and less fulfilled members. This belief that Congress and Washington, DC are inherently bad leads to an inferior product.
Hawkings has been among our nation’s foremost congressional observers for decades, and his identification of money and maps as some of the greatest challenges facing Congress is astute. We appreciate his thought-provoking article which can be found here: https://www.rollcall.com/news/hawkings/5-ms-describing-congress-broken.
What do you think? Do you agree with his 5 points? Or, did he miss something? Join the conversation at: https://www.facebook.com/takebackorg/.