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Political dynasties will lead until voted out

By Johnpaul Baratta, Contributing Columnist

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It seems Americans know what is right, but ignore it when voting. Instead of circulating new faces with fresh ideas through Congress, citizens continue to reelect incumbents with political fathers. In a recent interview with Politico, Florida candidate for House of Representatives Gwen Graham touted her centrist ideals: “We need to figure out a way to come down more in the middle, to get things done again.” Southern Democrats have been eager to champion Graham’s campaign, as well as the promising efforts of Georgia senatorial candidate Michelle Nunn. Incidentally, Graham and Nunn are both daughters of former senators from their respective states. Senators Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor face tough reelections this fall as well, but all three are also bolstered by political legacy.

All five candidates may lose this fall, but their elite membership in powerful political dynasties has been incredibly beneficial in getting them this far. With dissatisfaction for incumbents and Washington politics at an all-time high, it is shocking that voters continue to elect family members of old-school politicians.

Despite intense frustration with Washington, the obsession with political dynasties — all of which have governed less than perfectly — rages on. The media’s obsessive interest in Chelsea Clinton and every aspect of her recent pregnancy, though her daughter has little effect on the current political climate, is proof that we have not yet tired of the dynasty.

The same American public which gave Congress a 14 percent approval rating is now poised to send 90 percent of that same body back to Washington this November. Yes, gerrymandering in redistricting provides some explanation for the low turnover rate each election. The high rate of dissatisfaction with leaders of partisan districts should easily lead to primary challenges, yet only four incumbents were defeated in their primaries this year. These reelections, and likely dynastic 2016 prospects, are startling given the public’s documented exasperation with congressional incumbents. Seventy percent of the country disapproves of congressional Republicans, while 61 percent disapprove of congressional Democrats. Still, political forecasters agree that all 435 congressional districts will elect a Republican or Democrat in the fall. The only independents with a chance  of success this November are running in two-way contests as de facto Democrats. 

Former First Lady Barbara Bush turned heads when, in a recent interview, she said, “There are more than two or three families that should run for high office in America.” While 69 percent of Americans agreed with this condemnation of political dynasties, candidates with the last names Clinton and Bush remain the front-runners to become the next president.

Stop encouraging political dynasties. If frustrated with the two political parties, vote for a third one. Instead of complaining about Congress, vote for a new congressman. The solution to our dissatisfaction with the direction our country is headed and seemingly endless gridlock is simple: stop re-electing the same damn people.

Email Johnpaul Baratta at [email protected]

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1 Comment

One Response to “Political dynasties will lead until voted out”

  1. Jacob White on September 30th, 2014 2:57 pm

    Great article! Perhaps publicly funded elections could help break up the dynasty and give someone else a chance – even without their hands in big corporations’ pockets

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