Does The Never Ending Election Cycle Exacerbate Problem Solving?

Even casual observers are aware that this country faces many significant problems. Beyond the fiscal issues that seem to confront us with frightening regularity, there is immigration, gun control, healthcare, Iran and a host of challenges ahead.  Yet, we are continually ill served by a government that is unable to solve, let alone intelligently discuss these issues.

In 1968 Congress was in session for 48 weeks a year. The current Congress is scheduled to be in session for 34 weeks a year. What are they doing with those 14 weeks?  Are they studiously digging into the issues they are called upon to resolve?  Are they serving the people that elected them?  I think not!  It is a fact that all congressmen are expected to spend 30 hours a week on the phone soliciting campaign funds.  I know, the election just ended, and the next one is not until 2014.  However, campaigns have become so expensive that the campaigning and fund raising never end.  Today, members of Congress need to focus on their reelection just as they are being sworn in to serve in the Congress they were just elected to. 

Every move made by each congressman is being graded by one interest group or another.  Whether it be the NRA, the environmentalist, or the Conservative Union, each congressman is confronted by these interest groups.  Each member is ranked, and that rank is used as either a liability or asset in the next campaign.  During the vote on the “fiscal cliff” 85 Republican congressmen voted in support of the Bill.  The Tea Party immediately identified these representatives, preparing to “primary” them in the 2014 election.  Every move they make is measured against its impact on reelection.  A misstep or misstatement is magnified and its impact is often overblown.  The proliferation of media outlets has assured all of us that we will know all there is to know about each member of Congress.  All of this contributes to the inability of Congress to solve our nation’s problems and move ahead. 

If it sounds as if I have any sympathy for members of Congress, please think again!  They are self-serving and self-centered.  They are primarily concerned with their own reelection, and their lack courage is becoming legendary.  They enjoy the status and stature of their office along with all of the goodies that go with it.  Yet they lack the political courage to do what is right and serve our country.  The only reason that the never ending election cycle has exacerbated problem solving, is because the leadership and members has allowed it to.  It is time that the members of Congress reflect the attitude that, “Even if I am beaten at the polls next time, at least while I was here, I served my country well”.  Who will be the first to actually display some political courage?


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