No Risk, No Reward
Congress has declined in legitimacy and power for many reasons but above all because most of its members no longer win their seats in real elections against credible opponents. The situation has many analogies to the old soviet political system, though our current arrangement is impeccably American, deriving as it does from the one-party politics of the South, where filigrees of democratic forms decorated the metallic surface of the oligarchic machine. Of course it is true that some districts are safe for the Republicans, others for the Democrats, but that does not mean we have a genuine two-party system because in most districts there is only one party. Under this circumstance, congressional elections are mere plebiscites; and the pols they consecrate are, as it were, structurally contemptible since whatever they represent, it certainly isn’t the Will of the People.