Already, the rate of reelection of incumbents to Congress is higher than was the rate of return of members to the old Supreme Soviet (central legislature) of the former Soviet Union, where there was only one candidate on the ballot for each district and nationality group. Despite having the advantage of incumbency, including taxpayer-paid name-building through franking privileges, ready access to the national circuit of heavy-hitter donors, a well-oiled and maintained campaign organization in the election district and steady and active access to the media, members of Congress have now given themselves another layer of protection from often-betrayed constituents who have figured out the scam and would like to throw the rascals out.
A great example of a politician needful and desirous of this type of incumbent protection is Senator Max Baucus (Democrat, Montana), who based his whole career in politics on a long string of promises to never, never vote for gun control. He then betrayed his constituents and those promises by becoming one of a very few swing votes to switch to pass the Brady Law (to compile a national database of gun buyers) and the Feinstein Law (to outlaw bad-looking guns and ammunition magazines that hold eleven or more rounds of ammunition). Baucus really needs the cover in Montana afforded by the IPA.
This is all done in the name of saving politics from bad money. What it really does is muzzle a critical type of people who wish to band together to pool and spend money to oppose the incumbent.
This socalled "reform" is heavily supported by the media, because they are exempt from the effect, and, by taking other players out of the election contest, it makes remaining players, such as the media, more important players.
One interesting aspect of the vote on the Incumbent Protection Act is the states where both of the state's U.S. Senators voted to reject this protection racket. As one would imagine, this happened most with states that tend to elect Republicans to Congress and other public offices. The states from which both U.S. Senators voted against the IPA are listed below:
Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
Another perspective on this whole boondoggle is that the protections afforded by the IPA are most needed by those politicians who wish to be able to promise one thing to get elected, and then, once in office, do something entirely different--and not have to put up with any effective voter backlash because of the officeholders' double-dealing. So, they passed a law to silence, for 60 days before the election, those who would tell the voters about the incumbents' double-dealing.
What kind of people would comport themselves so as to actually need this government-enforced protection?
They are primarily Democrats (with a few Liberal Republicans thrown in). More important, they see themselves as a ruling elite, with the prerogative of mastery over their constituents. They believe that they are better and smarter people than the rest of American society--that they are entitled to guide and dominate the voters who elected them and whom they are supposed to represent. These elitist politicians believe they must impose their unwanted and unpopular preferences and biases on their constituents, sometimes for the perceived benefit of ungrateful constituents, and sometimes just because the elitists think they are so smart that they can do no wrong. It is only through some sort of elitism and arrogance that members of Congress would push policies different from those they promised to get themselves elected, and for which they so earnestly desire the protections available in the Incumbent Protection Act.
So, every Senator who voted for the IPA voted essentially for immunity from the results of voter dissatisfaction with his or her performance in office. In voting for the IPA, the Senator voted for the opportunity to stiff his or her constituents without consequence. Every American voter should remenber this the next time he or she is asked to vote for a Senate supporter of the IPA.
Gary Marbut is the President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the primary organization for Montana gun-owners and hunters, and a long-time political activist and political observer.
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