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DUMP THE INCUMBENTS! 26 reasons from A-Z

By Michael Boyd and Paul Frey

Dump the Incumbents!
by Michael Boyd and Paul Frey
Copyright 2007
All rights reserved.

Public service is honorable and admirable, and we are grateful to those who serve as our elected officials.  However, the terminal disease of American democracy is incumbency.  The problem is not the incumbent.  The problem is chronic incumbency. 

Professional politicians, the incumbent ruling class, have paralyzed the most vibrant and robust political system the world has ever seen.  In a relentless quest for more power, more influence, and more fame and fortune, they are slowly but surely destroying the thing to which they desperately cling. 

The American farmer learned long ago that the same crop, planted in the same field, produces less and less every season.  Each year the yield is smaller as the crop becomes more prone to disease, less able to withstand drought, heat, wind, or any hardship at all.  Eventually the field fails to produce enough to cover the cost and effort of planting.

The political fields of Washington, DC—Republican, Democrat, and Independent—are failing us.  The strong and healthy few are unable to support the many that are weak and frail.  We the People are responsible for this failure.  We, and only we, can solve this problem.

Our nation was founded on the principle of the “farmer statesman.”  Our founders knew the value of constant rotation in our elected officials.  They saw the benefit of changing political leadership to bring in the most current thinking from society.  Today’s incumbent officeholder has become more and more insulated from the pressures and struggles that we, their constituents, face every day.  Their decisions seem to have only one purpose:  to get themselves re-elected.  They have lost their passion for preserving freedom, the primary principle our Constitution was written to protect.

The balance of power has shifted from the citizens to the incumbents.  The pendulum has swung much too far in the incumbents’ favor.  We the People are a powerful force but, because of incumbency, We the People now feel powerless. 

We are not powerless.  True patriotism in our country calls for citizens to be involved and to take control of the actions of our elected officials.  As our Declaration of Independence states, it is [our] duty to “throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for [our] future Security." 

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transcient Causes, and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future Security.

Declaration of Independence 

America is at its best when the will of the people directs the actions of the country.  Throughout our country’s brief history, our destiny has been determined by the citizens of this great nation.  We have spoken up and spoken out time and time again when faced with adversity.  War, civil strife, and economic upheaval have all been met with our loud voice, through our elected representatives.  Chronic, widespread incumbency silences that powerful voice.

As more seats in government are filled by incumbents, fewer new ideas emerge.  Incumbency, by its nature, gradually weakens the relationship between elected officials and the constituents they represent.  They don’t need to “meet and greet” us any more.  They don’t seek out our concerns.  Consequently, we see them less and less.  They in turn focus their attention elsewhere on colleagues, lobbyists, and “others.” 

When incumbents can be re-elected by just placing their name on the ballot, why would they go to the trouble of asking us for our opinions?  A more compelling question is, “Why do we make it so easy for our elected officials to remain incumbents?”  Are we lazy, ignorant, apathetic, or so cynical that we just don’t care any more?  We think not.

Our history demonstrates that the American people, when unified and provoked, are unstoppable.  By eliminating chronic incumbency in our government, we will strengthen our voice, make our elected officials more accountable, create new solutions to old problems, and make our government more efficient.           

X is for X-Rated

Incumbency is obscene.  It is vulgar and coarse.  It is offensive when you actually pay attention to what’s being said and done by the people who were elected, to the people who elected them.  Because of our numbness, it takes incidents that are more and more graphic to get our attention.  They are so graphic, they become pornographic—they become x-rated.

How many elected officials have to be indicted before we are offended?  How many out-and-out lies do we have to listen to before we are awakened?  How many more allegations of bribes, political favors, and corruption do we have to endure?  In 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart defined pornography by saying, “I know it when I see it.”  Well, we know it, too, because we see it.  We see it all too often and it’s sickening.

Our expectations are that our elected officials will bring a high level of personal integrity and a sound, moral framework to their elected offices.  The same principles that guide our personal lives should guide their political lives.  We don’t vote for criminal behavior when we vote for our elected officials.  But more and more, that’s what we get.  At the very least, we get unethical behavior, and it’s offensive.  The unwillingness of our elected officials to adhere to commonly accepted ethical behavior is intolerable. 

The standard for our elected officials’ behavior is prescribed in our country’s founding documents.  We can continue to raise the bar with every Election Day.  Let’s take politics out of the x-rated theater and bring it back to the family viewing hour. 

The vices of the rich and great are mistaken for error; and those of the poor and lowly, for crimes. 

Lady Marguerite Blessington, Countess of Blessington, 1789 – 1849




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