14 April 2004

A kind of political aristocracy that is the very negation of the principles upon which this government was established

Rutgers political science professor Ross K. Baker details the rise of family political names and the straight handoffs of congressional posts directly from father to son. But buried in the article, near the bottom, states an important truth that I rarely see reflected in the mainstream media.
The trend toward hereditary seats in Congress is most pronounced in the House and is a direct result of the partisan redrawing of congressional districts that stack the deck decisively in favor of one party. For years, incumbent House members have enjoyed rates of re-election well over 90%, but even when an incumbent retires or dies, the seat stays in the column of the same party. Combine an overwhelming partisan advantage with a familiar name, and you have the ingredients for another dynastic handoff.

Each party has been quite content to seal their own individual fiefdoms, and Democrats have even sacrficed contending for House control in exchange to secure the slots they already possess. The real losers, however, are the U.S. citizens who pay an even higher price.


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