The Emancipation Of Congress Essay

1456 words - 6 pages

Our elected officials are sent to Washington to represent the people. In the case of the house they are there to represent the people of a certain district. Senators are supposed to represent citizens of a certain state. They currently have no limits on how long they can serve. There are many faces in Congress that have been there for over 20 years. I intend to explain why having the same people hold the same office is not healthy for the average American citizen. The original intent of the Constitution was to limit government and the self-serving interests that become tyrannical by their very nature. The fact that the founders did not include limiting terms for Congress appears to be a great oversight. The reason for this is simple. When a person was chosen to serve during the time of the founders it was considered both and honor and a burden. The founders overlooked term limits because at the time it was not an issue as it was not lucrative to be a member of Congress. Through devious legislation Congress has turned these offices of service into an institution that is above the very people it was designed to serve. It has become an institution that seeks power and allows corruption.
When one considers that the approval rate of Congress at any given time is below 30%, it would seem apparent that citizens are not happy with how they are represented. The question then becomes “Why are the same members of Congress elected if everyone is so unhappy with how they perform in their elected role”?

The Past
The very first Congress was given $6 per day for every day Congress was in session. This meager sum was further limited as they rarely held session for more than one third of any given year during that period of history. Members did not make holding office a career choice and usually only served one or two terms as the financial impact on them was usually negative. It was considered service to their country and the honor was in serving the people. After 1817 Congress voted themselves and annual salary of $1500 and in 1855 they were paid $3000 annually. Holding office was not a lucrative proposition and as such turnover was usually around 50% for members. That means that new incumbents were more likely to be elected. This rotation of members encouraged a representative to find the will of the people and campaign on policy that would help them be elected. Some will argue that this happens the same way today. I will explain in a later section why this is not the case and that the interest of the representatives is typically their own.
The offices held little incentive until the 1980’s where it broke 70k per year. The salary has since increased further to over 100k in 1991 and has since gone up by 4k on average every year since. This rate of growth encourages individuals to seek the security that is offered by holding office where there is a greater rate of growth and the private sector can provide.

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