Kind of a depressing WaPo piece here about America’s House of Not So Commons and politics increasingly being a rich person’s game:
Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.
Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.
The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.
The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.
That particular understatement could power multiple suns. Being a career politician is, well, a very lucrative career. Combine this with the fact that maybe 10-15% of House districts are ever truly competitive in an election by design and you start to understand just how depressing the chore of fixing Congress is. Some 90% disapproval for the institution, majorities now saying that their own Representative needs to be tossed, but maybe 60 out of 435 seats will change hands, at most, 80. The other 350 or so are in zero danger of losing their seat even in an election year where the House has roughly the same approval rating as breeding velociraptors down the hall from a hospital neonatal ICU.
The Senate fares no better of course and is actually in many ways far worse, but if you should still somehow be wondering why it seems like everyone with “Rep.” in front of their name has no idea how the 99% actually lives, there’s a distinct, structural reason for that. Also, good luck ever getting these clowns to agree to term limits, which would be a vital component of any fix.
For the one percent, by the one percent. Could you imagine more than one percent of Congress ever consisting of pipe-fitters, school teachers, auto mechanics, computer engineers, or nurses? It might be good for America. It would be slightly less good for people with a net worth of $725,000 or more, which is why it wouldn’t happen.
All the kvetching about the Presidency is one thing, but until we strip mine the professional grifters out of Congress, ain’t nothin’ gonna change, bro.