Last week Minnesota Senator Al Franken provided a less-than-ringing endorsement of embattled South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. One of many incumbents facing a tough reelection campaign, Democrats are rallying to save those vulnerable members of their party from the growing anti-incumbent anger amongst voters. But, even in a tough election season, what would cause one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate to advocate for the co-chairman of the Blue Dog Democrat Caucus?
Franken was clear that, although he doesn’t always agree with Herseth Sandlin on key policy issues (she’s much too conservative for über-liberal Franken), there is one thing that causes him to support her reelection. “She has voted differently than I voted on a couple of things, but we need to be able to have somebody here in South Dakota who’s going to vote for Speaker Pelosi, not for Speaker Boehner," explained Franken.
For Democrats, that’s what this election boils down to: who will return Nancy Pelosi and her ilk to leadership? It’s a crass political calculation that voters must take into account as they cast their ballots this November.
A recent Gallup poll showed the Congressional approval rating at 19% and falling. Over 75% of those polled disapprove of Congress’ actions. From Obamacare to Cap-and-Trade, the massive takeover of Wall Street, and the trillions of dollars spent irresponsibly on bailouts and “stimulus,” to the rising unemployment rate (which the stimulus was supposed to cap at 8%), Americans are thoroughly disappointed not only in Congress, but in the man who just two short years ago promised them hope and change. America gave Barack Obama the White House and a willing House and Senate. But instead of improving the country’s outlook, the economic situation has deteriorated at a startling pace.
But in examining the dismal Congressional approval rating, there’s an odd disconnect between overall disapproval of Congress and each individual member. It’s as though voters think, “It’s the guy in the other district that’s causing all the problems—not my representative!” What the average voter may not realize is that when they vote for their member of Congress, they are by default voting for that member’s political party, its leadership and the policy agenda of those leaders.
Even if Congressman Smith doesn’t agree that government should take over the healthcare system, if Congressman Smith is a Democrat, he will inevitably support the Democrat agenda—the same goes for Republicans.
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