Ex-Lawmakers Can’t Resist the Urge to Run Again

by Carrie McCullough

Widener University Masters of Public Administration Student

Congress’ approval rating is at one its lowest points in memory. This article compares the public’s opinion of Congress to that of their opinion of Lindsay Lohan; and with good measure. The public can only see deadlock, sequester, and bickering coming from the current Congress. What would make someone be interested in a job like that? Well, if you’ve already been there and done that, it may be more appealing.

Four notable ex lawmakers, Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies (PA), Former Rep. Bob Barr (GA), Former Rep. Joe Baca (CA), and former Rep. Robert Dold (IL) have all thrown their names back into the Congressional race once again, after many years away from politics. Additionally, party leaders believe at least 5 other candidates who lost in the last election will be considering running again in the upcoming elections. These individuals have spent a significant time away from the bickering and compromise of Congress, and are willing to give it another try. And why not? 9 ex-members won back their seats last year. These are experienced lawmakers, who know the ropes of Washington, and how to make things happen. The lure of the Washington spotlight, and getting their hands dirty seems to be very appealing to them. They’ve been there, and they’ve done that. For them, a re-election loss may not be the end of the road.

In my opinion, I believe Congress could use a little experience on compromise and lawmaking. These are candidates could bring a little bit of the “remember when” back into lawmaking that both parties seem to be nostalgic for.


Vote-a-Rama Part III: Wake Up, Congress

Several weeks ago the Senate held a “vote-a-rama” related  to amends to the federal budget. This is the third of a three part series of reactions to this event by Widener University students studying Congress this semester.

by Andrea Stickley

Widener University Political Science Major

Ladies and gentlemen, Congress has now found a way to act like a bunch of six year olds….and get paid for it! Introducing vote-a-rama, the newest invention that Congress has come up with that allows an all out debate and no compromise. It sounds like a word a six year old would come up with and sounds like how a six year old would act; and yet, it was created by our nation’s lawmakers. Something seems wrong with this picture. If Congress actually believes that they are going to accomplish something by holding this budget debate and comparing amendments, they’ve got another thing coming.

Wake up, Congress. Democrats and Republicans having different ideas is not a new discovery. The whole nation is aware of the fact that you guys can’t agree on issues. That’s not the problem. It’s the fact that Congress can’t come to a compromise. So, your solution to this is to hold a debate about the fact that you already know you have different amendments to request? Somehow this doesn’t seem like a smart idea or an effective use of time. Why not, instead of just rehashing all the things that you don’t agree on and will never agree on, you spend your time talking about things you can agree on? Wow, what a simplistic idea.

Unless, of course, there is nothing left that Congress can agree on…

The Perfect Score

by Erica Szpynda

Widener University Economics Major

The American Conservative Union ranks members of Congress on how their votes on key measure relate to the Republican Party.  Keeping the stereotype that congress does not get anything in mind, let’s look at the numbers for 2012:

  • 38 members of the House and 8 members of the Senate voted with the GOP 100% of the time.  These members include Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Marco Rubio, Florida, Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania and Tea Party leader Michelle Bachmann, Minnesota.
  • 20 Senators and 88 Representatives did not vote with the GOP on any measures.

Of the 535 members of Congress, 154 or 28.8% voted straight with their parties.  This makes it seem that 28% of Congress is unwilling to negotiate from their party lines.  2012 was seen as a year of a highly partisan Congress that couldn’t get anything passed.  The fiscal cliff came and Congress did not actually pass anything until after the January 1st deadline.  Since 2013 is not an election year it will be fun to see if members of Congress are willing to cross lines and negotiate across party lines.

Congress not getting anything done is a problem and gives them an approval rating lower than cockroaches.  With the numbers shown, it is interesting that 28% vote with their party all of the time and hopefully their reasoning is that this is what their constituency believes in.

Time to Restrict Congress’ Time

by Alexander Roux

Widener University Political Science Major

 For decades the issue of instituting term limits on Congressmen has been a hot topic for debate.  The issue comes up almost every new Congress but it never receives any real attention nor is it taken seriously.  The last major attempt for instituting term limits on our Senators and Representatives was in 1994 when Republicans took control of Congress and promised term limit legislation.  Legislation was introduced limiting Senators to two 6 year terms and House members to two 6 years terms as well.  The bill received support from both parties. However, there were not enough votes to secure the two thirds majority that is required for Constitutional Amendments.  The bill was defeated and since then no major attempt has been made to limit the numbers of years our Congressmen can serve.

I believe that if we found it necessary to restrict the number of terms for the President, then Congress and the Supreme Court should have the same restrictions.  Congress has had members of both houses serve 30 years in Washington.  The President has two shots to move the country in the right direction and effectively lead the nation. I believe that our Senators should enjoy two 6 years terms allowing them to work with 3 administrations and our House members should enjoy four 3 year terms, again allowing them to work with three administrations.  If they can’t effectively legislate in 12 years in Washington then they shouldn’t be allowed to keep their jobs.

Term limits might also help keep Washington lobbyists at bay considering they won’t have entire careers to corrupt our politicians.  As for our Congressmen a term limit might actually inspire them to work as hard as they can knowing that they can only be there for a max of 12 years and that eventually getting re-elected won’t matter. This will mean that what they’re doing for the people will be their own priority. I think that term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court are long overdue and that if we want to make our legislative body effective again term limits could certainly help make that a reality again.

What is Congress Anymore?

by Andrea Stickley
Widener University Political Science Major
When our forefathers came up with notion of how to run America, they decided upon the three branches of government to divide the power so no one would become to dominant. They implemented a few checks and balances in hopes that it would keep everything running smoothly. Fast forward to 2013 and what do you have: a disaster. Nothing is going America’s way. We have economic problems, gun violence issues, drug conflicts, and an intrusion into people’s personal lives. Somehow, I don’t think this is what our forefathers had planned on happening. So who’s to blame? What’s the cause? And, is there anyway to solve our problems?
This semester we delve into the production of the legislative branch of our government: Congress. Enter in two houses made up of (what are presumed to be) intelligent humans that represent the rest of the American population. These Senators and Representatives are supposed to be acting on behalf of their constituents. On the table right now in Congress are three hot topics: gun control, gay marriage, and marijuana. Voting on legislation about these topics is supposed to be based upon what the people want, therefore, one would assume that majority would win. However, in this day and age, wheeling and dealing has come into play. No longer are the votes for bills straightforward and based upon what the people want. It’s now about what congressmen can make the best deal.
As the 113th Congress begins its session and starts deliberating on these issues, the question arises of whether they are going to listen to the people, their party’s stances on issues, or the deals that they can make with others?
We are….the people.

Tug of War

by Matthew Dugan
Widener University Political Science Major
The current fiscal fight in Congress between the Democrats and the Republicans is adding further evidence to the widely held opinion that congress in incapable of agreeing on anything. The same fight that happens every year is being played out once again, Democrats want tax increases while the Republicans want to cut social programs. In the end there will be some sort of agreement made where nobody is happy, with the possibility of a government shut down happening first. Compromise is an ugly word in politics and officials on both sides will stand their ground without trying to reach any sort of actual agreement. They will stand on their side until they are blue in the face like a child who cant get his way. This is one of America’s largest frustrations with congress, in my opinion. They want to do what they feel is right for the country, I’m willing to grant them that and I have respect for them, but they are not helping us by shoving their finger’s in their ears going “blah blah blah” while the other side shouts their opinion. 
The only way to stop this cycle is to have politicians act like the mature and civil adults they are and to be open minded to others opinions. Obviously there are things that are off the table for both parties and they will not compromise on them. What needs to be found is some kind of middle ground. Neither side will ever accept the others entire proposal so it is pointless to continually try and get them to vote your way. The base of all this is the degradation of civil discourse in American politics. Politicians show almost no respect to one another. If the discourse in politics was changed then much more would get done if people merely showed each other the respect that is due to them as fellow human beings. If officials would stop pinning the opposition as someone who is trying to destroy America then there would be progress. I feel in my heart that no member of Congress, or any politician, wants to destroy America, I feel that they all want what is best for this country, they just want to go about it in a different way or they have a different idea of what “best” is. Attacking a person’s character and refusing to hear what they have to say will not solve anything and we will continue in this gridlock.