Ain’t “Democracy” Grand

I’m writing a piece for Ant’s Eye View that will explore this theme in greater detail, but I thought this study I found on the Web site of Common Cause was worth noting all by itself.

I’ve written before on the deplorable state of our democracy, where incumbents are so entrenched that the results of most Federal elections can be predicted years in advance of the election itself. Common Cause’s study of the 2000 election provides all the proof you need to see exactly how bad the situation is.

Consider these facts and tell me that the system is working:

  • Of 401 House incumbents who were running for re-election in 2000, only 46 faced “financially competitive” races (races where the incumbent had less than twice as much cash as the challenger).
  • Of the 46 who couldn’t manage to raise two or more times as much as their challenger, 38 won clear victories anyway — only six lost on Election Day (CC cites two races as “too close to call” at press time for this report, but doesn’t say what two, so I can’t look up how they eventually turned out).
  • Of the other 355 incumbents, only one failed to win re-election. (Poor schmuck!)

We laughed at Saddam Hussein when he claimed to win 100% of the vote in his last “election” as Iraqi dictator — but we have a House where 98% of its members face no real threat each cycle. I challenge you to articulate the difference.