In politics, incumbency usually provides a significant advantage to a candidate. Usually special interests and large-dollar donors flow to those who are currently in power and have control over government purse strings. Incumbents also carry the distinct advantage of staying in the public eye simply in the course of their duties and at the public expense, making campaigning considerably easier. So, election after elections, odds are you get to keep your seat.
No more, however. Today, there is an electoral tide turning against this once-impenetrable head-start. Today, it seems that being an incumbent now works against you.
There has been a string of incumbent losses in primaries, most recently Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., and Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah. Shockingly, Bennett finished third in delegate votes, getting only 26 percent of the total, and Mollohan, a 14-term incumbent, lost in the polls by 12 percent. Looking to the future, Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Arlen Specter, D-Pa., both incumbent senators, are looking rather nervous in the face of serious challenges for their primaries May 18. We've already seen other political forces toppled, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's public defeat and then defection from the Republican Party.
This trend seems to be holding true on all levels, with even local incumbents being ousted from school boards and county seats in elections across the country,
And of course this impact is felt at the highest levels, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid desperately fighting to keep his Nevada Senate seat. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nominee, will also be facing a primary challenge.
Not surprisingly, polls show that the American people are notably and consistently disenchanted with Congress. Last week's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on Congressional job performance gave Congress a mere 21 percent approval rating, with a full 72 percent outright disapproving.
"What is this all about?" you ask.
I believe the answer is simple: accountability. Conservative, moderate and even some progressive-minded Americans are tired of hearing the perpetual campaign rhetoric concerning cutting wasteful spending and lessening the burden on American taxpayers. It all started when the TARP legislation was passed and has only become amplified when additional so-called stimulus bills were rammed through and hit a fever pitch with the passage of the unaffordable health care legislation.