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March 24th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Why vote same politicians into office if we disapprove of them?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A wise person once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, by that definition, the American people are insane - because we re-elect the same people over and over again and expect that this time it will be different. They will do right by us.

Here's yet another sign of what low regard we hold Congress in:

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows that just about half of those surveyed say that most Republicans and most Democrats in Congress are unethical.

The poll also shows only one-third of Americans approve of how the congressional leaders have handled their jobs.

Another poll by CBS news shows even worse results for party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Only 11 percent have a favorable view of Pelosi; and eight percent for Reid. And both these polls were taken before the health care vote.

All this seems to suggest that maybe this will be the year to vote incumbents out of office. Even though history strongly suggests otherwise.

Another survey we recently told you about in the Cafferty File asked: If there were a single line on the ballot that would let you vote out every single member of Congress - including your own representative - would you do it? Half of the people surveyed say "yes."

But we never do. Insanity.

Here’s my question to you: Why do Americans keep voting the same politicians into office if we disapprove of the job they're doing?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Alex writes:
When more people vote on American Idol than they do in any governmental election, it's not that the people keep voting the same Congress in, it's that the people who want to vote them out simply don't vote.

Terry in Arizona writes:
We have become a nation of Kool-Aid drinkers. Members of Congress have the same control over us voters as Rev. Jim Jones had over the people of Jonestown. Also, the idiot running against the incumbent idiot may be an even worse idiot. I'm not going to mention any names, but we in Arizona have this scenario taking place now, and it is getting national attention.

Chris in Pittsburgh writes:
Jack, The issue is not the politicians, it is the two-party system. We can keep re-electing new politicians but if they are more loyal to their party than their constituents, the same result will happen again and again.

Alice writes:
It's always "throw the bums out!" But when people get into the voting booth, they whisper "But not my bum. He always brings home the bacon, he's really a good guy, he spoke to me at the fundraiser, etc."

Jerry writes:
The answer is simpler than you may think: People answer surveys to send a message. The voting booth is more sacred and reflects the real truth of how someone feels.

Jordan in Flushing, New York writes:
We hate the other guy's representative, not our own. A New Yorker is aghast at the Texan yelling "baby killer," while a Texan is fuming at the New Yorker fighting for health care reform. We don't hate Congress, we hate each other. Washington represents our national opinions and dialogues, it doesn't create them.


Filed under: Government • Senate and Congress • United States
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Steve Yee

    Politicians are hoping that voters will have short term memory. They will capitalize on the stupidity of the common voter and appeal to their nature while praying that their constituents will forget the transgressions they caused by not voting for what the voters wanted in the first place.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  2. David Dinner

    It appears that many voters are incapable of discerning the truth from the TV ads and are too afraid to risk voting for someone unfamiliar to them. It reminds me of the woman who keeps ending up with mates who beat her. At least they feel familiar, even if painful. Hopefully, and it is a faint hope, the last Presidential election was the dawning of awakening of the American voter. We'll see.

    David
    Kilauea, Kauai, HI

    March 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  3. Henry

    Jack,

    The answer is simple. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  4. Daniel Orion

    The simple answer is fear of change. Human beings have the natural tendency to fear change despite what ever their current situation is. People do this with their own lives everyday, so why should their votes be any different? Their elected officials may disappoint them on many occasions but they would rather have that predictability than an unknown candidate. This predictability gives the illusion of control.
    Of course this is not an absolute , since humanity has had its moments in history where they moved towards change. However, on the whole, humanity tends to shy away from it.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  5. Glen Constantine

    I think the American people feel helpless, we were just robbed of countless billions and no-one in the white house seems to think there was anything wrong with that. Probably the same reasons people shut up when there is a mob hit. The banks are totally out of order, and actuslly intimidate their customers these days, and no-one
    is there to help. Our hands seem to be tied as they run wild. But we are still Americans, and their day will come.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  6. Ben Webb

    It is simple denial and projection! We Americans are so spoiled and hold a sense of superiority so dear that we often blame someone else for anything that we feel personally affects us. The other team wins, we blame the referees! It is much easier to blame some else instead of looking in the mirror. How about support, personal responsibility, and hard work instead of blame, blame, blame! Sounds like the American ideal to me!.....Ben from Williamsburg, Virginia

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  7. Derek Wayne, NJ

    because people are stupid. plain and simple. people keep complaining how bad and corrupt democrats and republicans are, but they never vote for the independent, instead they still vote for the two parties.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  8. Paul Beerkens

    In our system a senator is trying to do the best for his state and not what is best for the country as a whole. So senator's from other states trying to get the best for their states do not have my best interest at heart. Therefor people disapprove of the senate but not of their local senator.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  9. James Burnham

    I think the same people get voted back time and again because the other alternatives bring nothing new to the table. Why bring in a bad politician who's tricks you don't know when you already have a bad politician who you know.

    I am deeply disgusted by the partisan attitudes of both parties. It would seem that neither side is capable of acting in the interest of the country. All both parties are really interested in is undermining the party in power and gettting back in control. It is like watching children play "king of the hill" on an elementary school playground. The problem is that these silly politicians are making our country their playground.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  10. Amine Chaar

    Why do we vote for the same evil, because the choice is limited and we vote for lesser evil, one time Democrats and one time a republican. Our system is broken and we need to fix it, by limit both the congress and senate to two terms and create an independent party to choose from...
    I voted for an independent last time and unfortunately only 2% voted for him, why ? because everyone else doesnot want to waste his or her vote

    Sad case Jack

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  11. RBong- chicago

    Our 2 party system sure doesn't seem to be doing the best for us.We blame the other party for the failures.My parents were very active in GOP politics and I loved being around it.While I voted for Reagan in 1980, I have gone away from the Republicans as I watched them go farther to the right.The fact that 3 of the last 4 elected GOP Presidents have been involved in scandals leading right into the oval office has been the biggest reason I have gone Dem/Lib. Washingtons "C" street sex scandals are a big example of their hypocrisy.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  12. Mark

    The quick answer: Those that appear as an alternative are fringe personalities or from fringe groups (e.g. Ron Paul or the Teabaggers) that offer only to replace one kind of problem with certainly a bigger one.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  13. Steve from Charlotte

    Jack-

    Most Americans are just too lazy or disinterested to learn about the candidates as individuals and rely on the party affiliation as a proxy for actual insight or knowledge of what the candidate is all about. Another culprit is block voting by party (at least here in NC)- "check this box to vote for all [your party] candidates" . Making the voting process as easy as ordering a combo meal at the drive through has its consequences.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  14. Paul

    We're too lazy

    March 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  15. dan

    Your favorability ratings for Pelosi and Reid are misleading. For Reid, nearly 70% had no opinion of him, and about 50% are undecided about Pelosi. Not to mention that these are national polls, which frankly don't matter at all to senators and representatives. The only ratings that matter come from Reid's state and Pelosi's district.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  16. Ron - Toronto

    Jack:

    Have you forgotten. The electorate NEVER votes for the incumbent, they vote AGAINST them. Unfortunately, in a two-party system the options are a "little" limited. As of this moment, there is no listing on the ballot stating "none of the above". The fact of the matter is, until lobbyists and special interest groups are prohibited from lining the pockets of politicians with enormous sums of money to dictate the agenda, it will continue to be a revolving door.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  17. Mary Rose Wilson

    It's a perfect storm of laziness and tunnel vision. Diehard ideology often keeps the wrong "guy" or "gal" in office. I live in the land of Arlen Specter- I should know.

    Mary Rose, Bethlehem PA

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  18. Neville Aitcheson

    Americans fail themselves just like the politicians fail them by being more in touch with American Idol as opposed to issues affecting them and the rest of America.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  19. R J

    Simple reason why we keep electing the same people. I think we are forced to pick the lesser of two evils. Yea, these people who are in office right now are not doing that great of a job, but that just goes to show you that when they were running for office, the opposition candidate must have been 10x worse. So imagine things much much more worse than they are now.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  20. Thomas Aldrich

    Perhaps, the reason has something to do with voter apathy. It seems as though the ones doing the most voting over the past 40 years have been the right-wing nut cases. Even the Conservatives are fed up with them. Hopefully, the next 2 election outcomes will be drastically different.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  21. Garvey

    Because the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  22. Phil

    Duh! They disapprove of the other district's or state's reps, not their own.

    Dems are in charge because a majority of voters want handouts and the rich to pay for everything. If we were required to up taxes to cover the deficits then Republicans would be in charge because the rich couldn't cover Obama's spending rate and everyone would have to pay their fair share. This 2008 voter majority wouldn't want that!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  23. Gail

    It's a choice between bad and worse. Neither party can be trusted. We need several parties, along with mandates fory publicly financed campaigns. Make candidates work to get elected instead of allowing special interests to buy elections. Taxpayers can easily vote AGAINST whomever they see advertising the most – just follow the money trail to the rotting garbage on both sides paid for by special interests and vote AGAINST that candidate.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  24. John, Fort Collins, CO

    Nancy Pelosi, with an 11% national approval rating, is a prime example of why incumbents remain in office: her district includes most of San Francisco containing the highest concentration of liberals on the planet. It has been said a dominatrix would be elected to Congress in San Francisco ahead of any Republican candidate. And, of course, the reverse holds true in the Deep South and many rural areas of the country. People are more than happy to elect a village idiot to Congress as long it is their village idiot.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  25. Troy Linck

    I think we tolerate the partisanship fighting too much – we elected them all to work, to solve problems and to move this country forward. Doesn't matter what my political belief... I see the same bad behavior across all parties. It reminds me of what I always say to my employees – especially at their reviews. I have never seen a job description that says that fighting and not trying to resolve issues is an acceptable part of your job performance. I don't pay anyone to fight – i pay them to get the job done.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  26. Don

    Unfortunately, the field of politicians is as weak as it is because many talented and ethical people rwould ather work in the private sector than get caught up in the quicksand of D.C. politics – believe me, I know

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  27. tboehrer

    It's always everyone else congressman. Not their own. Duh.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  28. Crystal

    I think psychologically we are just comfortable with people we are familiar with if even if these are the people screwing up this nation. I also believe people are afraid to go for what they believe in and will not stand up to make that difference. However, isn’t that what this country was born from?

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  29. Wilson James

    Cmon Jack! We're not crazy....the other guy is. We like our congressman, he brings the pork home to US. That's OK. What we want is to erase the pork the other guy gets! Government spending is alway a waste if it ain't spent locally. Insane? Not us,

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  30. Judith

    Because no one else is on the ballot. I want to vote my preference, but what if all the choices are "bad" and "not as bad." The media frenzy and bi-partisan ugliness has made those who would best serve us, turn away from public service. No one wants to participate in the carnage and pettiness that dominates our campaigns.

    Given what we have, I am a firm believer in term limits. What's the chance of that happening?

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  31. Rod

    These representatives and senators are from districts who keep electing them. None of the people mentioned in your article are electable nationally. If I voted in the area represented by Pelosi I sure wouldn't vote for her.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  32. William

    Well Jack, we prefer the devil we know over the one we don't know. So on we go..
    That "wise man" you quoted, just happens to be Albert Einstein. He might be right!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  33. Doug Selma, TX

    A large percentage of voters in this country treat politics like a team sport, competitive, and want to win at any cost. And why shouldn't they especially after the behavior of the Republican party during this great debate on Health Care.

    It was the Republican way or no way and so they acted like children and hide with their hands over their eyes wishing it away! Really, how can you ask this question, Jack, when our whole political system is based on Blue vs Red. We are taught it from day one.
    Gone are the days when Honor and Respect and Integrity were present in the governing bodies. Now, we have people yelling, "Liar", and "Baby Killer", and nothing is done!

    Our government is as corrupt as many others, and that's why we keep voting them in, It's a "Team Sport" and winning is everything regardless of the people dying without health care who work for the CEO's who will get sinful bonuses! No Honor or Rule of Law in our House and Senate!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  34. Scott Stodden

    I only disapprove of what the Republicans are doing Jack because they lack leadership and support violence, I wonder why all these threats and violence are happening and Republicans are being quiet! I never vote Republican only Democrat!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  35. Mike

    Probably a couple reasons:
    1. There is little real choice. The incumbants are generally able to get through the primaries where voter turnout is poor (no excuse for this!). Once we get to the general election the choice becomes Sleezebag Republican or Sleezebag Democrat so people end up voting for the incumbant because at least they are a known sleeze.
    2. Incumbants accumlate war chests of cash that make it nearly impossible for challengers to compete financially.
    3. Contrary to what the current administration claims – most people really don't like change. They will stay the course even if it's the wrong course.

    The only real viable solution is term limits. Something that an overwhelming majority of the country is in favor of. At least then we can get a different flavor of sleeze every few years.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  36. Greg

    Jack,
    Some of us have been trying to vote our representative out for years. I haven't voted for a House winner since 1992.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  37. Joanne

    It is a case of the devil you know is better than the devil you dont.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  38. Malcolm L. Williams

    When you vote, you have a choice between two (sometimes three candidates). Most people pick the best ibem even if they disapprove of his performance. In their opinion, his opponet is worse.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  39. GC

    It may be a symptom of voter apathy in the face of our daily struggles coupled with the depth of the field (i.e. lack thereof) in a flawed system. Perhaps if we were given a vote of confidence and the choice of public referendum our elected officials would make proper choices based on constituency preferences rather than merely making promises they rarely keep. Then perhaps the voting public would see the candidates they voted for in action rather than the elected officials they become. However, in the absence of accountability and the dominance of our two party system we may be falling prey to apathy and acceptance of the status quo.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  40. steve- virginia beach

    As recently as a year ago, polls showed the sentiment that Congress was terrible except for our own senators and representatives. Now polls show that we don't even like our own guys and for good reason.
    America is waking up after being mugged by the Obama and so-called progressives and becoming more and more independent. That's why they need to bring illegal aliens into the fold- they need the votes. We'll see in November whether our newly found intellect translates into rationally explainable actions.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  41. Greg Faherty

    I believe most people either: a) think their congress person is ok while all the rest of them are not getting the job done;or b) don't really follow closely enough the voting record of their own congress person to be able to vote intelligently or possibly c) have completely washed their hands of the entire process and have given up that any thing they do will accomplish anything.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  42. Howard

    "'Better the devil you know than the devil you don't'

    There must be a reason that saying is so popular.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  43. Marcus Tate

    Jack – The obvious answer is: We're not given a choice! Both parties trot out the same candidates over and over. That said, if you look at the last Democratic election, people did go a different direction by picking Obama over Clinton. They said they wanted change. Well, they got it,, baby! Am I hope they're happy with Socialism.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  44. Fred Tromans

    Kansas City, MO

    I believe many more people vote AGAINST candidates the vote FOR candidates. That the extremist control both parties is hard to argue against. I feel we are out of control on the road from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek, with sheer cliffs on both sides of the road. And we are bouncing from one cliff to the other, then back again.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  45. Fred in Houston

    The evil I know is better than the evil I don't.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  46. Bob

    "Why do Americans keep voting the same politicians into office if we disapprove of the job they're doing?"

    One problem is that we have low voter turnouts. Since election results reflect the will of a majority of those who actually turn out to vote, and not the will of a majority of those who are eligible to vote, low voter turnouts are bad for democracy. Maybe part of the problem is that we vote on a workday, Tuesday, instead of voting on a weekend day. We might have better results if we had two days of voting covering Saturday and Sunday.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  47. Michael McDermott

    Answer a question with a question and you might get the answer. How many decades have we been voting for candidates claiming not to be part of the establishment and want us to vote for them so they can bring change to the system but, never fulfill their campaign pledges? An old Irish saying. "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know." Pensacola, FL

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  48. Thomas Golden

    McMinnville Oregon
    Because very few intelligent creative people run for office. The choice comes down to stupid but experienced, or just plain stupid.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  49. tony sasso

    I will never vote for an incumbent there should be term limits

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  50. Timothy Carroll

    If I recall correctly, John Lennon once said during a post-Beatle break up interview, "People, even young people, refuse to accept change."

    So, I would imagine that unless voters were forced to make a new choice, such as due to term limits, most would justify keeping an incumbent in office by using experience as the primary reason. Unfortunately, all too often experience is defined as time in office rather than actual accomplishments.

    Perhaps voters should be provided training as HR Managers so that they will learn to actually inquire about and perceive more of a candidates qualifications for the job. The politicians are, after all, suppose to be servants of the people, not the other way around.

    Timothy Carroll
    Kansas City, MO

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  51. Alice Newman

    Its always "throw the bums out!" But when people get into the voting booth – they whisper "but not my bum ... he always brings home the bacon, he's really a good guy, he spoke to me at the fundraiser ...."

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  52. Jerry L. Jackson

    The answer is more simple than you may think. People answer surveys to send a message. The voting booth is more sacred and reflects the real truth of how someone feels.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  53. Doug, Sandy, Utah

    It is not the voters or even Congress that are insane. It is the system that encourages obstruction that is insane. This may or may not have made sense in the eighteenth century but makes no sense today.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  54. Peggy

    We keep voting for the same people because the best people aren't running for political office. Or as someone else said, we look at what we have to choose from and vote for the lesser of two evils.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  55. Rick Indiana

    To save us all from ourselves is to have Term limits.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  56. Joe

    Jack,

    Did you ever notice people buy more from the man who drives up to your house in his expensive care (ie: Bernie Madoff) who is a crook? American people vote in the same manner. Since the Republican voters want an all or nothing agenda, how can I vote for anyone from the nihilists?
    Joe, Binghamton, NY

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  57. JW Georgia

    People gravitate to the familiar name on the ballot. Being creatures of habit people vote for the same party as their highly gerrymandered neighborhood. This is the power of branding. If branding wasn't so powerful, CNN would have a hard time raising money from advertising.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  58. Jacque D (Oregon)

    Due to our current electoral college, campaign costs and campaign financing methods, it is impossible to gett unknown capable people into the public awareness enough to even have a chance at getting them elected for any seat. Ross Peroe only got as far as he did because he was RICH.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  59. Eric - Las Vegas

    It's simple. Because it's always the "other" nutjob who represents the "other" district who's mucking up the system, not "my' representative, who understands "our" issues in "our" area.

    It's "the other guy" syndrome.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  60. Chris

    Jack-

    The issue is not the politicians, it is the 2 party system. We can keep re-electing new politicians but it they are so loyal to their party rather than their constituents, the same result will happen again and again.

    The 2 party system has run its course and it needs to be disbanded. It doesn't work and nothing gets accomplished. We need to adopt a system of just independents. No party affiliations. This way, the politicians will vote based on their own decisions, not what their party leaders tell them what to do. Good or bad, bills will get passed and it will be done the old fashioned way, majority rule.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  61. Tom

    Because of the audacity of hope. Most Americans unfortunately have no clue of how the congressional government works. We are lured by the idea of pipe dreams veiled in hollywood concepts which are delivered daily by those who are supposed to lead us, therefore we are unable make true distinctions between whats real and what is pure illusion. The rest who grasp some sort of understanding are left with the realization of the almost insurmountable obstacle to progress that is congress and simply have to believe that change is possible in those we put our trust in by voting for them, over and over again, in the hopes that maybe some small aspect of what we work so hard for may find some light and progress ensue.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  62. Josh H

    Jack its because no individual American has money to run against these clowns. Government isn't for the people by the people anymore. Its for the Corporations, Unions and Lobbyist. America's political atmosphere will never end until government is given back to the people. Ban Lobbying is the only solution to our woes.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  63. WolfCub

    The answer is easy, jack. The people who complain the most do nothing to change their own situations. They don't vote. All they do is complain.

    Love the tie.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  64. jared

    thank you cnn for finally being a mass media source to allow such an article, great article by cafferty. get some new faces in there to bring about the change we as americans call for , these old fatcats are killing us.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  65. Bea Clapp

    Americans have no choice but to vote for either the Democrats or Republicans because no other individuals have the National Committee money behind them for people to even hear about them. We're stuck voting for whoever is the lesser of two evils. There is no choice really except to accept who is put in our faces.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  66. John Poggendorf; Prescott, AZ

    Jack:

    The answer is simple:

    [1] Voting districts were LONG ago Gerrymandered to install one party's candidate or the other.

    [2] In any election, each party gets one candidate.....with those selections handled in primaries and where a "newbee" is at a decided disadvantage financially, in terms of name awareness, and in a contest where turnout is usually very very low.

    [3] Thus, by the time we get to the ballot box, we're not voting for a candidate so much as we are for the "D" or the "R".....and even if your guy isn't your first choice, you're guy LIGHT YEARS ahead of "THEM!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  67. dick

    Mine may be a crook, but s/he's MY crook.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  68. Jim

    80% of the people vote by name recognition and really don't know what the persons issues are.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  69. Dennis Robertson

    There are five hundred and thirty five of those scumbags up in Washington and I only have a vote on three of them. Meanwhile some moron decided that the Senate and the House can make up their own rules, so the same scumbags get to decide for themselves to reward longevity by handing out committee assignments for themselves and giving senior officeholders more power than new ones. The electorate, at least to some extent, keep reelecting the same scoundrels in the sad hope that their more powerful representation will result in a bigger slice of the government pie when pork starts getting handed out.

    Make all Senators and Representatives truly equal and force them to accept committee assignments at random, then we'll talk about throwing out the truly worthless ones.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  70. Dale

    One word: "Gerrymander"

    Fix Gerrymandering and you fix the system.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  71. jerry

    The two parties have a stranglehold on who gets support and the voters foolishly allow them the power to decide. Most voters in the last election readily admit that they were voting for the least offensive candidate. Until we reject the party nominees and the platforms they lie about, we'll never regain a representative government.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  72. Jeff

    Because most legislators are liked in their districts, however it's the lot as a whole that get a thumbs down. The body, as a whole, is seen as "on the take." Bright, energetic individuals, who have good ideas and would make good members of congress, know better than to subject themselves and their families to the hate that comes with the office. It's the individuals who run who see the office as a lottery ticket, rather than a service to their district.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  73. Gwen

    It's a case of better the devil you know, when the person running seems to be a clone of the one already in office

    March 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  74. jimmy harris washington nc 27889

    jack
    i intend to vote only non incumbant the present congress have had their last chance.i only hope many more americans will do same and begin to take our country back froms jackels in charge
    i think a poll should be conducet to allow only 2 term limits and then go home become private citzen to live under same laws they imposed
    jimmy harris

    March 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  75. joe m

    have you ever seen that movie 'the distingushe gentleman"? americans are general lazy and expect things to change without having to do anything. instead of actually understanding the issues and the positions that candidates take, we go for the least common denominator. i hate to say it, but we deserve the dysfunctional, ineffectual, and corrupt political leaders we have. instead of taking these politician to task, we allow ourselves to be bought by pet project, platitudes, and sometimes bold face lies. what americans are doing is not insanity, it is stupidity.

    NC

    March 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  76. Steve

    Fundamentally, I think we're a nation of lazy, overweight "Monday Morning Quarterbacks"... criticizing is the easiest thing in the world to do... heaven help us if we actually have to do something like take a real stand that would entail personal involvement! Our best and brightest are too busy trying to build personal wealth only to be unfairly taxed to support people who are unwilling to take personal responsibility for their actions or inactions... Yet, despite itself, America is still the land of opportunity!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  77. Dick

    Politicians say what we want to hear, and they bring just enough pork into our state to keep people happy. Americans don't want to face reality so politicians say things to make us feel good about ourselves and about them. If a politician brings pork into someone else's state, it's unethical. If a politician brings pork into our state he or she is a great person.

    Any politician who spoke in realistic, truthful terms would never get elected in the first place.

    We have the type of government we deserve.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  78. Brandyn Sorrells

    Jack, the problem is the cost of electability in this country. Not only is there a great monetary requirement to reach the US Congress; there is a moral cost as well. We all know money doesn't trickle down as readily as some claim – so many politicians trade their integrity not only to be elected but to remain in office. It is a slippery slope. Perhaps someone should notify the Supreme Court!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  79. ARNOLD KIRKBRIDE

    That's easy. Because they are all the same. It's like throwing out something of no value, and then buying one just like it.
    Arnold

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  80. Bea Clapp

    It's ALL about the money! A decent person who would make a great representative for the People have no chance against the Republican and Democrat National Committees and the money they have to make sure every TV ad pushes who they want us to vote for.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  81. Ted

    Jack, the resolution would be in establishing term limits. The president gets eight years max. OK, how about the rest of them getting eight years max. Too many of them get into politics and make a career out of it and tend to lose sight of the common man, the working stiff. We should drain the swamp on a regular basis and get new fresh ideas into Washington.

    Ted

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  82. Mary

    I recently moved to Chicago and am amazed at the attitude here. Everyone agrees that IL politics are dirty but "what are you going to do they are all dirty". I agree we need to get rid of all of them and start over.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  83. str84wird in Sedona, AZ

    WHY? Probably for the same lame reason that a woman stays with an abusive man.
    We're insecure and cowardly.... and afraid of change.
    It must be easier to stay with the familiar even if you hate it, than take a chance on the unknown even if it could be better.

    Personally, I dumped the rotten husband and went out on my own and fought my way through the 70s and raised my child alone.
    I finally found my perfect mate 18 years later....a lot wiser and a lot stronger.

    Sometimes you have to kiss some frogs before you can find the prince.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  84. John

    Often times people are afraid of change. Just as in dysfunctional relationships, people tend to stay with the person they have just because at least they know the flaws of that person. A lot of voters consiciously decide to remain in dysfunctional relationships with their elected officials.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  85. Joe Bass

    It doesn't much matter who gets voted in or out. If you want to have honest and ethical politicians, here's what needs to happen:

    1. Make lobbying illegal. The people currently vote people in, but it's the lobbyists that pay off the politicians to have the laws made in their favor. Corporations and special interest groups as entities don't vote. Consider such payoffs as bribes and prosecute those politicians that take them.

    2. Envoke term limits. The problem is that half the government is so old and set in their ways, that they are grossly out of step with the rest of the world regarding new ideas and attitudes.

    3. Eliminate "Pork Bills". If you are going to vote on something, the vote that one thing.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  86. Paul

    We have met the problem - and it is us. Not me, of course, but you.
    Most voters are too unsophisticated in political thought to demand more intelligent and thoughtful representation. If you respond to catch phrases and sound bites, and vote for candidates because you "like them," you deserve to be treated by your elected official as uncritical lout. I am certain that MANY of our senators and representatives are intelligent well-meaning reasonable people, but those characteristics do not get them elected, and they know that. It will only be when the electorate expects and enjoys more complexity and nuance from their candidates that they will get it.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  87. Sandy B Granite City, IL

    Jack,
    The game is rigged. I cannot tell you how many years my congressman NEVER had any opposition. With redistricting, our lawmakers rigged the game to guarantee their seats.
    We must remember that there are other parties besides Dems and Repubs. I never agreed with the two parties ruling while denying third party candidates (remember Ralph Nader and the presidential debates)

    I am an election judge and belive our voting process is the best but voters have no control over the rules of the game. Our legislators do.

    Sandrakay

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  88. J D from Texas

    Birther Newbooger is my Congressman. Is it a surprise that I have no respect for incumbents???

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  89. D. Kisting

    Not me! I vote as an Independent. In desperation, I voted for Ralph Nader. I figured he was as good as Bush or Gore. Not a good choice, but a choice.

    Pelosi and Reid have to go! I can think of a "few" others, as well.

    D. Kisting/Michigan

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  90. Dana in Oklahoma

    I think that people hope you will vote yours out and they hope to keep the power of theirs. So it all stays the same.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  91. Randy McAulley

    Jack –

    It's not as insane as it seems. Most of the upset is with representatives we cannot vote for (thoses in other districts). I can only vote for two senators and one representative. While my candidate doesn't always win, I have bigger issues with the 98 other senators and 434 other representatives.

    Randy

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  92. Gary Kirkendall

    It's simple - candidates run for their home districts, but govern nationally. They have a terrible habit of transferring their "home grown" political traits into national issues. I live in a conservative district - our representative votes conservative on the "big issues", but adds to the overall decline of the American political system by trading favors on less weighty issues for the bacon back home. Our elected officials are no good becasue they are forced to operate in a no good political machine.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  93. Pipe

    Because the American public is lazy, and ignorant

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  94. Paul K.

    The same bums are presented to us by the parties. What are our choicesThe DEMs & GOP present distractions that are not really in the public's intrest such as a public option.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  95. Allen - Texas

    I believe people want to be on the winning side and vote for who they think will win. They think this makes them a winner too. I haven't picked a winner in a long time.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  96. Jim Harper

    It's simple, Jack. It's the old "...but not MY bum" syndrome. There is going to be a big wake-up call this November when all off the "bums" find themselves on the street, looking for a job. I already informed Mr. Kucinich of this, but he probably just laughed when he read it.
    -Jim, Cleveland

    March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  97. Brandyn Sorrells; San Francisco, CA

    Jack, the problem is the cost of electability in this country. Not only is there a great monetary requirement to reach the US Congress; there is a moral cost as well. We all know money doesn't trickle down as readily as some claim – so many politicians trade their integrity not only to be elected but to remain in office. It is a slippery slope. Perhaps someone should notify the Supreme Court!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  98. Tom Waldrop, Vienna, Virginia

    Jack, we are insane, truly insane. Our lamentations are all the same, and then we turn right around and deliver them back to their careers, being crazed politicians. How bad does it really have to get for us to take action? Like addicts, our lives must reach bottom of the barrel .. our wind sucked out. Obama's Health-Care might be the juice that does that...and then we vote them out., all of them.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  99. David

    People are stupid! They listen to what politicians say instead of paying attention to what they do. And way too many people just pay attention to the "R" or "D" after their name. We need to get out of the "picking the lesser of two evils" mentality.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  100. Nestor, NYC

    Jack,

    Unfortunately there are no good alternatives most of the time. When there are they don't have the money to compete with the candidates that are incompetent. People would have to do their homework on the candidates instead of relying on advertisements. This is something people are just not willing to do.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  101. K Curt

    The way you pose the question only adds to the absurdity of the conversation. Some elected officials do a great job, but have difficult people and situations to deal with. Being around for awhile is not the problem – sometimes it provides the knowledge and perspective that is sorely needed. What we need to do is vote out those who perpetuate the absurdities, the hate speech, and the short term political game playing that prevents us from moving forward and getting things done. You don't help things by encouraging thoughtless re-activeness.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  102. B2H

    Agree with the folks above who said we always want the other guy to vote their guy out.

    Frankly, we in CT tried to get one of our Senators out, booting him in the primary, but he was allowed to run on a third party, so he's still in. Most everyone knows who that is.

    The problem is that many of these elections, primaries and generals, have no opposition to the incumbent, The incumbent has the money and the support. They have control over the message because, no matter where they appear for what type of event, the cameras are there. A non-incumbent cannot afford that kind of coverage. A normal human being wouldn't want to associated with the job anyway, so no honest person will run.

    As for me, if I know the candidate on the ballot is an incumbent, they don't get my vote. Plain and simple. Means having to do a little homework before going to the booth.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  103. Patrick Dobbins

    You are right Jack, we expound endlessly about the incompetence of politicians but generally vote them back into office.

    Perhaps the fact that the once hallowed offices of our elected officials have become so tainted that no one trusts them. Perhaps deep down we believe the system is so corrupt that even a fresh face can affect no change, so we vote on the lesser of two evils. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't...

    The lack of significant young, new political recruits should testify to this fact. Eventually the white-haired blowhards will die off but will we be able to resurrect the original sanctity of the U.S. political office?

    If we can't then the big-money bloated government will continue to limp along, tripping over petty partisan disputes with ineffective ego-driven, air-heads calling the shots.

    Will the real Abe Lincolns please stand up?

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  104. Bryan - Missouri

    The same people are reelected for a very simple reason – the people who elect them. While congressional approval ratings as a whole are low, a majority of people view their own representatives in a much more positive light. Everyone (or a lot of people) like the person who they picked, just not everyone else. Politics are just ugly, and low approval ratings are the result of that.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  105. Paul from Minnesota

    We want our elected officials to think just like us 100% of the time. We vote for who we think will do that, and then get disappointed 100% of the time when they fail to channel our mind before every vote they take.

    Are voters insane? The ones who don't get that they have to share this country with people who aren't just like them are surely out of touch with reality.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  106. Teresa Gray

    Jack,
    The system needs a total overall, the people that could probably run and mack a difference, because if you don't have the money and the connections to go with it, you stand little or no chance to get your name and face out there. And forget it if you've ever made a mistake in your life in the past. The only one that make it there are the ones that know how to work the system and have the shadow people behind the curtain pulling the strings.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  107. Pied Type

    We keep doing it because we hope our incumbents, with their increasing seniority, can get more goodies for our state. Besides, if we elect any new guys, they'll be corrupted by the system as soon as they get to Washington. Term limits might stop the insanity, but incumbents will never do that to themselves.

    Sarah
    Denver

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  108. Mike A in MBG

    Simple:
    1. because advertising works, and Congressional Campaigns raise millions..sometimes TENS of Millions on advertising (positive AND negative).
    2. we have gerrymandered districts.

    Until we get real campaign finance reform, and until we get fair districts, nothing will change, yet voters keep voting down any attempt at these two reforms. So I say they're either dumb, insane, or more likely – both.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  109. Marc-Maryland

    Well, Scott, where the Repulicans lack in leadership, the current Democratic politicians lead in stupidity. Just wait until November to see wo the people support. Obama doesn't care about the economy, he just cares about his personal agenda. He is not listening to the people, and is selling our country out to Socialism, which the last time I checked, isn't working well anywhere in the world.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  110. Frances Savage

    This will be the year that it happens.! No incumbents will be elected. They spend more time on roll call than they do our problems at stake. The president can serve only 8 years, why doesn't congress come under the same law? They pile all the pork barrell issues on every bill-that has nothing to do with what they are voting on. For instance, "Why were we paying for a hospital to be built or student loans to be funded, when they were voting on health care?"

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  111. Toadstool2180@gmail.com

    We vote them back in because we would end up with someone like Faiin Palin in office. The people running against them are just as bad

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  112. Sean from Maine

    I think the late George Carlin said it best, "Stuipid, selfish people elect stupid, selfish leaders." These politicians come from our society, not outerspace. If thes politicians are so terrible then why do they rise to the top of the leadership pile? The fact that these are the people we choose to lead us says way more about us than it does them.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  113. Patrick

    Unfortunately, Jack there’s usually little choice. In ’08 I could vote for the incumbent Republicrat or a Green Party kid who sounded about 12 years old. The 12 year old got my reluctant vote. The two parties have conspired (yes, I said conspired) to make sure that whoever is elected is completely dependent on the party. Did you notice in the recent house vote that the row labeled “independent” was completely empty? Where are the libertarians and greenies and, for that matter, socialists? Surely we’re not this homogonous? It’s not the congress that should have such low poll numbers, it’s the Republicans and Democrats.

    Patrick

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  114. Brad W

    Term limits are the only answer to our problems. Politicians are worried about gettign reelected and not doing what is best for our country.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  115. Natalia, Albuquerque, NM

    First of all, most Americans are lazy and do not invest the time to learn the candidate's stand on all the issues. Others are too stupid to understand what any politician is talking about. While others, don't really care or have brain freeze at the ballot and they vote "name recognition." And when you only get 10-15% of the voting public out to actually vote - you do the math.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  116. David

    Jack,
    My Congressman has been in office since I graduated from high school. Now I'm 51, every term I vote for someone else and every time he gets put back in office. I don't get it. I wish I had a answer for you.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  117. Glenn

    No matter how we like to look at ourselves, the tendency for human nature is greed. Even if we vote every single member of congress out of office, what is to prevent even more corrupt people from filling these positions?

    Sadly, nothing. Power corrupts, period, and congress has an undeniable history for increasing their own power.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  118. K-Dawg

    Greeley, CO

    Simple Jack. Many people would rather vote for the party rather than the person. What a shame.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  119. maxiamju1

    Jack, lets vote out this set of clowns vote in a new set. But just because you change the clowns it does not change the fact they are still in a circus..Jim

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  120. Andrew Krivy

    When 90% of the media interviews continue to ask no hard questions, then most people will continue to be un-informed, only hearing the fluff. When good hard, accountable questions get asked, then people will start to question who they vote for more. Here is another way of saying it, "Why was it such big news story even NBC covered the recent interview of Obama on Fox by Brent Baer? Because he finally got asked some good hard questions and what did us people get from him, not a good answer to any of them but we got to see that he can't really handle good hard questions. Same goes for all the congressmen, they need asked good hard questions, not fluff about their house dog and last nights dinner!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  121. Brian R.

    Most people believe Congress as a whole is wildly dysfunctional but when asked about their specific representative they have a very different opinion. Pork barrel spending rarely seems like a bad thing when it's in your own district that a new bridge is build or a school gets more funding. As with all things, it's easier to blame someone else or see other people's needs as wasteful.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  122. Ken S

    The only people that have the option of voting Nancy Pelosi out of office live in California. I live in NH and would relish the opportunity to elect someone else. As long as Pelosi and her cronies make the voters in their districts happy the rest of the nation will be forced to suffer. Until such time as national disgust can relegate these so called leaders to the sidelines our nation will be held prisoner by them.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  123. Angie

    FYI: I watch CNN, I read CNN, but I still don't know where their polls are. Are CNN polls the best kept Republican secret?

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  124. Martin Cusack

    Texas, I really wish we had option to vote on more canadates than the 2 i get to pick from every election red vrs. blue (Rep vrs. Dem) is all i see please dissolve this party idea and run on a stance for your own convictions and if i agree you will get my vote !

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  125. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – Poll results are often quite misleading. Studies of election and polling preferences demonstrate that most often, people's opinions are quite illogical. There is no option to vote "against Congress" – one gets to vote for one Representative, either the incumbent or some challenger. Polls show that while support for Congress in general is very low, "my Congressperson" consistently gets over 50% support in each District, for bringing home the bacon (i.e., pork for me!) That is why seats change parties mostly when there is no incumbent running. Mrs. Pelosi does not need support outside her District, Mr Reed does not need support outside his State. Do not expect anything to change because of these poll results, – they do not reflect realities that apply on election day.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  126. Sam

    Truth is it doesn't matter how we feel about any particular individual running for office because the only way to even get on the ballot is to have the approval of those who pull the strings behind the scenes in the first place. All of the horses on the track run for the same team in other words.
    Mabe it didn't use to be this way, but politics hasn't been the same since the demise of America's last true president JFK.
    Think not? Bush wasn't elected he was appointed, and so was Obama.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  127. Matt in Warwick, RI

    There seems to be a growing decent in America towards anything change related. The idiots at the voting booths seem to check off the name that they recognize and nothing more. With all the technology and media available these days, one would think we would be better educated on global issues which impact us via the political spectrum. Jack, we need that lever in the booth that is the option to switch out the whole of these pampered politicians.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  128. Steve from Colorado

    Some politicians are good but some certainly are not. However, when both side argue and behave unprofessionally, perhaps voters cannot figure out who needs to stay and who needs to go. Professional conduct in the face of debate and confrontation should be demanded and those who refuse to obey should be voted out.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  129. paul

    jack, it's very simple, first we need to have public funding for anyone wishing to run for office, especially after the new supreme court ruling allowing corporations to fund candidates with no limits on how much they can spend. secondly, we need to have term limits on both houses of congress to insure that private interests can not hold a person hostage to their wishes and or their re-election. thirdly, we need an independant ethics panel to oversee congress and to hold them accountable for their actions in regard to private interests. we know they will not do this on their own, so we need all americans to force their hands and get this done! good or bad, there is no reason any elected official should serve longer than a president!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  130. Michelle

    Easy, really good leaders generally don't want to run for public office. We expect our political leaders not to swear, not to make mistakes, not to cry, and generally be unlike the rest of us. It is a problem, I must say, that is perpetuated by the media. We end up getting whomever thinks they are better than everyone else or those that think they can hide that they are like everyone else.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  131. Richard

    It's simple. We like our guy and hate yours.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  132. R A Periatt

    The reason, plain and simple, is that my Representatives and Senators have integrity, are responsive to their constituants' needs, and are good people.. Yours are not. Therefore, you, as a patriotic American, must limit the terms of YOUR congressmen.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  133. Nuwan

    You gave the answere already. Because they are insane. Is it two hard to swallow ? Does is shatter people ego or the pride to admit that America has gone insane ? May be this is the time to bit that hard truth and change our thinking elect politicians who works for the people.

    Nuwan from Houston, TX

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  134. Jim - Peoria Illinois

    The last I heard In the state of illinois, if you want your name on the
    ballot for a state wide office , and you're not affiliated with either the
    repbulican od democartic party , the requirement is 5 times the number of signatures required. So yes , we keep electing the same politicians , because in our case the 2 dominant parties have rigged the process to their favor by statute.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  135. Mike CT

    The problem is the two party system. Even independents consistantly lean to the conservative or libral side. If the incumbent is on the side you lean to, you don't want to vote for the other guy because you don't like their political standing. You would rather vote for someoen you don't think their doing job very well than for the opponent who will vote against your basic political beliefs. It's an either/or choice. More choices on the ballot would be great.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  136. David NC

    As Hitler said: "By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise." The same politicians are elected over and over again because propoganda is the order of the day, not actual progress. We trust the devil we know, rather than the one we don't...as long as they have the same little letter next to their name as we do next to ours.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  137. Luwanna Guysville Ohio

    Jack,

    It is called "the evil you know..." when you have limited choices, and other parties (not Repub. or Demo.) have limited funding therefore limited access to media... people will go with the evil they know...
    I'd love to vote out Boehner but I'm not in that district. He DOES NOT represent the majority of Ohio people nor does he speak for us no matter what the liar claims.

    Luwanna Guysville Ohio

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  138. Susan Zyrkowski

    National polls are stupid and unreliable. Local polls are stupid and unreliable. Why did the "majority" of the electorate vote Obama in? Because we wanted change. I listen to the Republicans complaining that the health bill was jammed through even though the "people" didn't want it. Maybe tea-baggers and conservatives didn't want it, but those of us who voted in Obama wanted even more.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  139. Geri-Wyomissing, PA

    Maybe we aren't paying enough attention to what is happening in politics enough and we should especially with the trials in our country right now. But I don't think we're insane, just that we have an innate belief in our system and hopeful those who stand on a honest platform perform just that way.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  140. Jim from Silver Spring, MD

    Well, Jack, when we actually DO vote the incumbents out, the ones who replace them turn out to be just as bad. So why bother? As long as politicians are in perpetual campaign mode and only do what they think will allow them to keep their jobs, there's no difference between the incumbents and those who seek to replace them.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  141. carey georgas

    Jack, Jack, Jack...poll after poll after poll shows that when voters are asked their opinion of Congress in general, they want to throw the bums out. Ask them about the representative from their district, and they say, almost without fail, that their man(woman) does okay. Remember Tip O'Neill's old saw, "All politics is local".

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  142. Zach

    Maybe it's time to give Independents without partisan ties a chance. I'm more than sick of Democrats and Republicans being treated like they are the only politicians who matter

    Zach
    Hattiesburg, MS

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  143. Ailene

    Reasons are many, but may include:

    1. General apathy among electorate.
    2. Reactionary, highly emotionally-driven, uninformed electorate.
    3. Too much political party-control of election and process instead of constituents-focused.
    -There's a need to examine gerrymandering process
    -There's a need to have OPEN PRIMARIES.

    Indianapolis, Indiana

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  144. Diane Schrader

    Jack, I used to vote the incumbents in again and again but no more. I am thoroughly disgusted with the behavior of the very scary people in the Republican party. This disrespect and hatespeech have reached unprecedented levels due to hatemongers like Limbaugh, Beck and Coulter inciting the wingnut element. It scares me a lot. Please take their threats seriously as I do believe they will act on them.

    Diane in Warwick, MD

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  145. Theresa

    I believe people vote in the incumbent when they are doing a terrible job, because they are fearful. When they are fearful, they think, "better stick with the devil I know." When incumbents are doing a great job, that's when they get voted out. People think, "things are great! Maybe I can do even better with the other guy!"

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  146. Angela Savage Austin

    My concern regarding the threats and violence on our Americans, be they politicians or private citizens, is outrageous and criminal. The Republicans always tell their base to let your voice be heard...where is their voice (The Republicans) at this time. Hostility breeds hostility. Hate crimes and racism are criminal acts and those who practice and encourage such acts should be prosecuted....no exceptions. Justice should prevail...it seems that there is a double standard when some think and feel that they are above the law and consider that "JUSTICE" means "JUST...US" should be protected by the constitution and have rights they would deny others.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  147. Brian Ward

    The reason we keep doing the same thing over and over is because we americans are spoiled, immature, racist, brats. I can't believe that the country I served for over 22 years can act so backward and pathetic. What a waste!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  148. Octodad

    I find it amusing that Americans have a problem with recycling trash but no problem recycling politicians with clearly documented track records both bad and worse. We as Americans are too permissive; and I sometimes wonder if "we" are the ones who are gluttons for punishment since we re-elect them. Maybe most Americans feel their political leaders have learned their lessons; however, dependent upon the degree of corruption...

    March 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  149. Aaron, Owings Mills, MD

    Jack, as long as politicians deliver the goods they promise to their constituents, they will be re-elected. It's as simple as that. The political reality is this–people care more about results than about process. This is why President Obama and the Democrats who crafted, passed and delivered healthcare reform will be re-elected, remain the majority in the house of representatives, will regain their majority in the senate and will remain in the white house.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  150. Alana

    I think we keep voting in the same people because people are scared to death of change. People are so used to politics as usual, they cling to the familiar because it makes them feel safe. The idea of "new blood" in congress breeds uncertainty, insecurity. And to top it off, politicians use fear tactics to scare people away from making those changes. Look at Bush...So the cycle continues...

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  151. Amanda

    It's all about apathy. People think "same junk in a different package" when it comes to politicians. Assuming they care enough to vote, they vote for the incumbent because their representative or senator has been in Congress for ages. Maybe if we had term limits for politicians, we wouldn't have to wait for incumbents to retire to get some change in Congress.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  152. Brandon from MO

    Jack, we live in a me-first society and our citizens vote for the candidate who provides the most freebies. We have 99 weeks of unemployment, subsidized health care for the poor, food stamps, welfare, free child care, free/reduced school lunches...I could go on and on. And you know who pays for all this? The working people who take it in the shorts every time. Do you think the people who use these services give one cent to the rest of society? No, they just take and take and when they don't get enough, they use terms like racist, redistribution of wealth, fairness and equality, etc. I wish I could whine and cry and get what I want for nothing. But somebody has to work to take care of those who obviously have no accountability for their life.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  153. mike-sey

    Americans keep voting in the same people probably because their representatives represent a majority of them pretty accurately. If that means most Americans are idiots, Jack, well........

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  154. josephia

    because everybody doesnt have to like them... just the majority of people in their area... next question

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  155. Ron Martin

    I think the main reason is we as a people do not have control of the reins.....its as if a we are on a horse with no bridled.........large special interests are at the reins........we need term limits as bad as I have ever seen in my lifetime...@ 52 yrs.....I must also add that the media ......... are better at feeding propaganda at the trough ..........I must say that CNN is the closest to being unbiased media than all mainstream...........I personally have been on a campaign to raise monies for PBS as much as possible..........most educated and uneducated folks are completely brainwashed to one degree or another...............

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  156. Matt - Mobile, Alabama

    Jack, Americans are interested in seeing politicians make the same mistakes over and over because it is entertaining. If the polls were like the movies and we paid to vote for entertainment, we'd blow Avatar out of the record books!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  157. lorraine Wienbrock

    Dear Jack,

    We don't keep electing the same ones. We elected Obama, and if the Republicans, especially the extremist tea-baggers, would stop trying to derail him, we would see some real change–honest attempts to improve life for all Americans, but especially for the middle class. Those who are expressing racism and advocating violence are the insane ones!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  158. Buffalo Brian

    simple Jack, those that were in the pole don't vote. What was the registered voter to voter turnout ratio? Exactly! People gripe, but they don't vote. Those that do vote EVERY election, want the same-ole-same-ole.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  159. Sharon

    Too many Americans don't read, they are listening to broadcasters and news show hosts that are generating ratings who also don't read or engage in any research. They have no idea who they are voting for.

    - Sharon from NJ

    March 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  160. Kelly M.

    It's because the New World Order is constantly playing off the left and right. They own both sides and have the same agenda. It's like professional Wrestling, they're at one anothers throat in front of the camera, but behind the scenes they're drinking tea together and plotting their next attack against the American people.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  161. Susan Miller

    Just doing what my Daddy told me: "Vote the biggest crooks out of town."

    March 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  162. Don Ritchie

    Dearest Jack,

    An individual voter only has one Representative and two Senators at a time. If we liked these other 532 people, they probably wouldn't be doing their job very well.

    Maybe these low approval ratings coupled with high rates of incumbent re-election signify that individual members are doing an exceptional job for their local constituencies?

    Love,
    Don from Louisiana

    March 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  163. Dean

    Because they are safer that the other lonies that clammer for public attention

    March 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  164. Wayne

    Here’s my question to you: Why do Americans keep voting the same politicians into office if we disapprove of the job they're doing?

    Easy. Most people vote AGAINST the opponent. The lesser of the two evils.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  165. Marcus Monas

    Jack, The primary is where its at. CNN needs to focus more on the primary's because a republican will more than likely always vote repulican and same for a democrat so unless the person running is changed in the primary nothing is going to change. In november people step into the voting booth and say "well I really don't like this republican guy but he's better than the democrat" and voila the same person is back in the seat.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  166. Pete

    Because most Americans are not well informed, they are lazy and they believe whatever they watch on TV. Ever since that worthless peanut farmer created the Department of Education, Americans, on the whole, can't spell, don't read, and have zero math skills and expect everything for nothing. Our politicians recognize this and capitalize on it.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  167. Inday

    With what's going in in politics headed by Obama, Pelosi and Reid the word "reelect" makes me vomit –For the first time in my life, I fear living as American Citizen - today, I owe $40,000 as part of the 12T (still increasing each day) debt. My life and future is at stake. How can I be at peace when in reality I owe more than what I actually save - The government is killing my future with ongoing national debts - FIRE THE POLITICIANS THAT ARE IN WHITEHOUSE BY 2012 and CONGRESS/SENATE BY 2010. Enough!!!!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  168. Chris in New York

    Most people don't pay enough attention to the local political races and then, IF THEY DO VOTE (which is crazy when you have no idea what or whom you are voting for) pull the lever for whoever's name they recognize.

    Its time for Americans to WAKE UP and PAY ATTENTION to who we are electing to run our country (spend our money)

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  169. Michael

    Because people hate Congress because of "waste," and waste is always something someone else does (IOW, I don't waste time, I take some tie for myself, others waste time). My congressman ensured we got a vital road project as part of the stimulus package, but all those other congressmen are wasting taxpayer dollars on stupid airports and bridges to nowhere. At the end of the day, we have 434 wasteful, corrupt politicians in congress and one person doing a decent job, my own incumbent....

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  170. Gene Gilpin

    I wish term limits would work, but, sadly, they don't. Look at California.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  171. dwhite

    My answer is "yes"... most of us. Campaigns are run on promises and agendas that go unfufilled, policy changes that are not possible with the bureaucracy in Washington and campaign funds given by special interest groups. People generally vote on 1 or 2 issues. Last Presidential election, it was the war. Anyone who opposed Bush would have won that one. Even McCain tried to seperate himself from his party leader at the time. The problem is that the people vote for the most likable and they dont vote in Conressional elections, which actually has more of an impact on their local region. You have to be a football fan to watch Buffalo vs. Cleveland but everyone will watch the Superbowl.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  172. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Because we like to say we voted without knowing who we voted for.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  173. Marko

    At election time, we vote our politics; we look for a candidate who seems to reflect our way of thinking. In between election cycles, we want (or at least, we think "we want") our government to work; i.e. politicking is over, get to work. The problem seems to be that in this age of open government (no more backroom negotiations), everything is done in front of a bank of microphones which leads to nothing more than political posturing. Third rate back benchers spout out "You're a liar" and "Babykiller" and get all the press. The result is that politicking never seems to end.

    Let 'em return to the backroom and work out a deal. That's how we got Soc. Sec., Unemployment Insurance, Medicare and Civil Rights.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  174. Lee Viorel

    Jack:

    The voters are a microcosm of the country in general. The problem in Congress is that it is someone else's representative that is causing the problems. Local voters protect their own. The old saying that "all politics is local" still applies today.

    Springfield, Missouri

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  175. Dave

    We are just keeping our expectations low Jack.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  176. Bob

    Two words: "Safe districts." Thanks to gerrymandering, most districts won't ever change thanks to the masses of kool-aid-drinking, "vote the party" people in them. Only the few, incredibly-minority "swing districts" have any hope of changing.

    If we outlaw gerrymandering, and outlaw all considerations of political party/demographic, and instead simply apportioned the most reasonable districts by even population, maybe we could have real representation again!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  177. Fred Schmidt

    It's all about the MONEY! The incumbants have "war chests" full of it!
    The man or woman with new ideas doesn't have a chance of being heard because he/she has no base or support.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  178. Mario Chávez

    Jack, this behavior is reflected in other countries. It's human nature. On one hand, a man will complain about the dishonesty of a certain politician, only to vote for him later because he has "no other viable options."

    Besides, here in America, the politician –honest, effective or not– with more financial resources will capture the attention of the common voter by simply overwhelming the airwaves with his ads, regardless of the ad's truthfulness or truthiness.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  179. Linn

    It's simple, most Americans are scared of change.
    Look at the tea party movement!

    When Obama was running for President everyone said they wanted change and was ready for it, where are those people now? All I see are a bunch of idiots misrepresenting America!
    When Americans are faced with change we run and hide, when future generations read about this in history books they will laugh at how stupid we are acting!

    It really saddens me to see my fellow Americans acting this way, because I really love this country.

    -Oklahoma

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  180. Donna

    Jack,

    You are asking people that are not in these politicians areas to give you input. Why don't you ask those who are actually are in, say Ms. Pelosi's district, for their input since they are the only ones that really count.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  181. Kevin Martin - Windsor Ontario

    Because we are slaves to the corporate media structure that continues to tell people to vote in politicians that act contrary to the interests of the citizenry. Lets be serious here Jack, the power structure in this country does not want an educated populace because it will threaten their hold on "democracy"

    March 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  182. Robert From Toronto

    It's simple Jack monkee see monkey do!!!!!!!!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  183. Ray Johnston

    Anybody that is talented and smart enough to do the job properly is probably too smart to want the hassle to run for office. Just not worth it anymore in many ways.

    So if we can't get top talent to vote for, what does it really matter. We could make it worse if we vote out our own Representative or Senator.

    (But of course every else should vote out theirs) :)

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  184. Debbie Foster

    Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know...because all seats are bought by large campaign contributions, no politician, whether incumbants or new comers is really for the people. If we do away with private contributions and special interest lobbyists, I believe we will have a much better run, realistic government.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  185. sailor

    Everyone thinks they all stink except "their own guy".

    Maybe we should vote on everyone elses person – that would probably get everyone out of office.

    I personally only voted for 1 incumbant on the last go around and voted outside my party for the candidate that was polling the highest but was not rep or dem in order to encourage a break of the power hold that the 2 parties have.

    I will not vote for a single incumbent in this years election – period end of story.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  186. Nate

    Because we keep winding up with these dirt snakes on the ballot after primaries since the parties themselves only care about delivering reliability and adherence to the party line. Democrat or Republican, you can bet your states operatives would run a reliable turd over a free thinking saint any day. Duh.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  187. dan

    because the political machine on both sides will pull out all the stops to get the party reliable to vote next election. they get them off of street corners and old folks homes and country clubs that the wealthy gather at. we once again will probably be outnumbered by those who for no other reason than daddy did and his daddy did vote a certain way forever. even here in nevada with an upcoming election ALL WATERED DOWN WITH CANDIDATES we will probably still have Harry reid (though the healthcare vote for america helped him in my eyes not hurt him) for him in my eyes to little too late.. i just hope all the republican and democrate faithfull feel the same way.

    but im not holding out hope i think maybe four more elections we will wake up? come on 2016!!!!!!!!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  188. Beth Josey

    Its not us voting them back in ..it is big business and all the money they throw into the elections. It is no longer about the common man-just big business. And Boy have they not done a good job for us all the last few years

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  189. Gloria Brock, Mission Viejo, CA

    My whole family – long time Republicans. No more! We have all decided to leave all politics and loyalties aside and not vote for any incumbent, and we are telling everyone we know to do the same. We've decided to try business personnel. No teachers, no accountants, no government employees and no retirees. People in business need to be successful and have a perspective on all things that others do not, so we're giving them a shot. We tried Obama for change, and are sorely disappointed. But to be fair, anyone who had taken that job in the Whitehouse would have the same hurdles to climb – he was just a better choice than Palin – what was McCain thinking? If he had thought better, he would have gotten our votes.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  190. sharold delilah

    let me tell you one of them ...POLITICAL CORRECTNESS! we live in a pesky PC world incumbents today has the knack to spin on issues until the American people is willing to dig deep to surface the core issues it is re election day for the incumbents and their pesky supporters!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  191. jota

    The average voter is intellectually lazy and/or lacks the education and/or experience to cast an informed vote. This is why we need term limits.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  192. Darrell Fichtl

    Jack:

    Winston Churchill once said, "“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

    nuff said?

    March 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  193. wayne

    They should be on the same health care plan as lus.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  194. Libby

    Easy. People think that congress people are corrupt, but not THEIR congressperson. And who can blame them? Between pork barrel politics and special interests, individuals are incentivised to keep on voting for the same person. This is further enforced by how committee memberships are given out.

    Basically the whole electoral system ends up for people having the incentives to vote for people that they don't want to pay for programs that they don't want.

    My opinion is that the country needs to change it's electoral system. Mixed Majority Parliment anyone?

    March 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  195. Sharon: Michigan

    It takes a lot of money to run for an office, and the incumbent usually has some form of supporters to fund their campaign. I have always wondered how much "vote buying" goes on in politics, and after watching how this congress behaved with health care, I can only imagine that this type of stuff goes on all the time. With that type of POWER, who else has a chance to get their message out???

    March 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  196. Donnie

    Normally it's because the incumbent runs unopposed in their own party, but given the choice of voting for the incumbent if they are in your party or giving a vote to the other side your going most likely stick with your party.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  197. Ryan

    People in their districts vote them in. Just because the American people in general disapprove of them doesn't mean they won't be back. As long as the congressperson is in a very conservative or very liberal district they will be back again and again.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  198. Keith Connes

    I suspect most people belive that there's not much point in throwing the bums out and replacing them with new bums. It's not so much the people in office, it's the system that corrupts them, where they are beholden to interest groups that give them the financial support they need to stay in office. The soluition is a major overhaul of campaign finance, which seems even harder to do than the overhaul of the health care system. If Congress people became financially independent their actions would soon earn them the respect of the people they were elected to serve.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  199. Becky

    I don't, but I live in a state where most people do vote for Republican idiots and a criminal governor, and my vote doesn't count enough to counteract the insanity.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  200. Steve Kyner

    Jack,
    If the country is about 50/50 between the two parties, throwing all the bums out means at least an even chance the new balance will favor a party whose policies I deeply loathe. I choose not to risk that.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  201. Roz Folk

    I often do vote for someone different – someone new – in the primaries. People appear to prefer predictable crap to change. My candidates lose because they represent the center – they represent the need of the many over the needs of the one. No one wants someone ethical because they will hit a brick wall of status quo in DC = money. I have never missed an election since I turned 18, not even when I was assigned to NATO. And I am CENTER.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  202. lynne j. in nc

    The main reason is the unknown and fear. Politicians know what buttons to push so the people continue to be sheep. People need to opening a book or go on the internet and find out some stuff about the people running for office whether an incumbent or not. Just stop being sheep.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  203. JP

    Prisoners dilemma.

    If I vote my bum out, but you keep yours, your old bum has more seniority than my freshman saint.

    As long as Congress remains driven by seniority, a corrupt veteran will be a better representative of the district's short-term interests than a virtuous neophyte.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  204. Joe

    Nancy Pelosi would make a great Avon lady!

    March 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  205. Hal

    Elections are not that simple. It is always about choices and I suspect most people vote for what they view as the lesser of two evils. In the current environment has everyone already forgotten why they voted for change in 2008? Are we really that fickle?

    March 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  206. Simon/Orlando

    Incumbants get a lot of campaign money from special interest groups that control their voting. That allows them to overwhelm the competition with negatve TV ads. The predominantly liberal media also runs biased stories in favor of the Democrats which tends to keep progressives in office.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  207. Kate TX

    Jack- for the very same reason that George W. Bush was re-elected after "Mission Accomplished" reversed the economic surplus left by President Clinton. Americans fear change. Plain and simple.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm |