I spent last week in Jackson County. While driving around, while sitting in my motel, I saw and heard a lot of political ads, among them a ton of radio for Peter DeFazio. The curious thing was that DeFazio, known for being outspoken, was not only not mentioning he was a Democrat, he wasn’t mentioning he was a Congressman. In other words, he was asking to “elect,” rather than “re-elect.”
I spent much of this week in the Bay Area, and noticed the same phenomenon. Not knowing the players as well, I thought I could pick out the Ds from the Rs, but I wasn’t 100% sure.
I know we’re in an anti-Congress, anti-incumbent mood in the nation. We’ve been told that for months now. But when members of that Congress play into that presumption, it gives it more strength and it supports the blatant falsehood that this Congress was a bad one. In fact, it wasn’t. This was, as far as I can tell, the most activist Congress in my lifetime, and that includes the one that passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress finally achieved something big in health insurance reform, a change that will add millions of people to the roles of the insured. Congress quite possibly saved the nation from a total financial meltdown, including the collapse of the banking industry and the death knell of the American automobile industry. Congress passed significant banking reform.
Maybe none of these turned out the way many of us wanted. The perfect is frequently the enemy of the good. But in a Congress in which “majority” has come to mean 60 instead of 51, and in which Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman held the balance of power, this is a pretty impressive record. I don’t recall any other Congress since the “Second New Deal” of 1937 that got so much done. And the result? Elected officials running away from their own records all over the nation. A Democratic member of Congress announcing yesterday he voted for McCain. And members pretending they’ve never seen the place they want to be returned to for a second, or seventh, or thirteenth term.
So in this last week before the votes are counted, for once, I’d like to say “Thank you” not only to my member of Congress, but to Congress in general, for a job as well done as any in memory. I just wish that America recognized this and that the members themselves had the pride to take credit for their work.