Last week Republican Rep. Robert Hurt paid his first official visit to our neck of the woods as our new incumbent congressman, visiting with local business people in Warrenton. What a waste of time – his and ours!
Uncertainty, Rep. Hurt allowed, is bad for business. So why was our congressman spending valuable time out here when so much hard work needs to be done in Big Washington to mitigate economic uncertainty?
The answer is simple, yet speaks volumes about how dysfunctional Congress has become:
Like virtually all incumbents, Rep. Hurt spends most of his time in a state of perpetual campaigning – selling himself to us, his constituents, or raising money to brand and better sell himself, like any other product, to us as if we’re nothing but consumers.
Even in gerrymandered “safe” Republican seats like our 5th Congressional District, the incumbent must constantly worry about possible primary challenges from his right. Indeed, our district – stretching southward like a snake all the way to the Carolina border – could be the “poster child” for gerrymandering.
Gerrymandered congressional districts are perhaps the primary cause, in the view of political scientists, of the current institutional dysfunction in Big Washington. So it is that, though the Democratic presidential ticket carried Virginia by a margin of almost two million votes, only three of the state’s 11 congressional districts elected Democrats.
The predictable result? Governmental gridlock. And worse: Congress’s threat to not pay its own bills, turning America into a “deadbeat” nation. It’s as if Rep. Hurt and his congressional colleagues actually want to create economic uncertainty.
All nation-states, it is said, ultimately get the government and leaders that they deserve. And in a democracy we surely can’t blame anybody but ourselves, the voters. We the people! As the cartoon character Pogo long ago and famously said, we have met the enemy and he is us.
By all accounts (including my own), Rep. Hurt is not only a nice guy but also intelligent. So let us prove we’re not ungovernable and summon the courage to tell him the truth: Go back to Big Washington, please, and don’t come back home until the job gets done.