What Outrage?

In a political year allegedly defined by Republican voters outraged at the DC insider machine, not a single GOP member of Congress lost their seat in a primary contest.gettyimages-488803936_wide-5a5e5612c065dbd2597df23ae445f5b0d7197cc1-s900-c85

Even the Democrats, with grassroots torn between Hillary and Bernie, have only tossed one incumbent congressman in a primary. And that’s a fellow under federal indictment for racketeering and an influence-peddling conspiracy!

Where’s all the outrage, again?

RealClearPolitics says Congress has an average approval rating of 14.5 percent. Every presidential candidate railed against Congress.

Still, members of congress got re-elected. All 435 members of the House and 34 members of the 100-seat Senate were up for re-election. Only one of 469 was booted from office.

In Texas, several incumbents were challenged. Only long-serving Kevin Brady (R-Conroe) had a “squeaker” against three challengers… winning 53.4 percent of the vote.

Is this the old canard that “everyone hates Congress, perhaps, but loves their congressman”? Perhaps.

Or perhaps it’s reflective of the general lack of information voters had about any race besides the presidency. Whatever other merits the presumptive GOP nominee might have, he came to the race with a tremendous ability to focus cameras upon himself.

In July 2015, Gallop found that Trump had a 92 percent “name ID” rating. (Compare that to John Kasisch, whose name ID was in the mid-30s.)

New voters, disenfranchised voters, the “angry” voters, showed up to the polls having been saturated by the mainstream media with Trump and the presidency. Since they hadn’t voted before, candidates weren’t talking to them, so these angry at DC voters voted in the most typical fashion: the name they had heard before.

When they had the chance, that is.

In truth, the incumbent-protection laws in our restrictive campaign finance system make a challenge almost impossible. Almost by definitional, there is no shortage of cronies and insiders willing and able to pony up the federal maximum to re-elect an incumbent. And almost by definition, a challenger simply lacks the relationships to match such prowess and limiting their ability to even get their name before the voters.

And so while some number of these “angry”, “disillusioned with DC” voters might have voted against their incumbent, a challenge never had the chance to materialize.

Powerbrokers are the first to champion tight restrictions on campaign finance as a moral crusade that feeds a false narrative. In reality, the tighter and more restrictive the system of campaign finance, the stronger the hand dealt to the incumbents and cronies 2016’s voters were so adamant about displacing.

Freeing the nation’s system of campaign finance should be a top priority… but don’t count on incumbents to do it. It’s a great shield against angry voters.