Saturday, May 30, 2009

Time for REAL Representation! (Part VI)

This is the concluding segment on my comprehensive study of the occupations and fields of endeavor every single member of Congress had prior to being elected to the House or Senate. I now list the final states in this series, in alphabetical order, from Texas-Wyoming. Numbers listed refer to that state's particular congressional district number, S=Senator, D=Democrat, I=Independent, R=Republican, A=Attorney, P=Politician (one whose only real employment since leaving school has been in the political field, either as political assistant, mayor, etc.). Below these listed states will be my final summarization.

1. Louie Gohmert R A, Judge
2. Ted Poe R A, Judge
3. Sam Johnson R Construction Exec
4. Ralph Hall R A
5. Jeb Hensarding R A
6. Joe Barton R Engineer
7. John Culberson R A
8. Kevin Brady R Public Affairs Director
9. Al Green D A
10. Michael McCaul R A
11. Mike Conway R Accountant
12. Kay Granger R High School Teacher, Financial Exec
13. Mac Thornberry R A, Rancher
14. Ron Paul R Physician
15. Ruben Hinojosa D Grocery Exec
16. Silvestre Reyes D Border Patrol Agent
17. Chet Edwards D Real Estate agent, Communications Exec
18. Sheila Jackson-Lee D A
19. Randy Neugebauer R Real Estate Developer
20. Charles Gonzales D A, Judge
21. Lamar S. Smith R A
22. Pete Olson R A
23. Ciro Rodriguez D Social Worker, College Professor
24. Kenny Marchant R Construction Exec
25. Lloyd Doggett D A
26. Michael C. Burgess R Obstetrician
27. Solomon P. Ortiz D Law Enforcement
28. Henry Cuellar D A, Customs Broker
29. Gene Green D A
30. Eddie Bernice Johnson D Nurse, Therapist
31. John Carter R A, Judge
32. Pete Sessions R Telecommunications Exec
S. Kay Bailey Hutchison R A, Journalist, Bank Exec
S. John Cornyn R A
1. Rob Bishop R High School Teacher, Lobbyist
2. Jim Matheson D Energy Consultant
3. Jason Chaffetz R Business Relations Exec
S. Orrin Hatch R A
S. Robert Bennett R Public Relations Consultant, Technology Exec
At large. Peter Welch D A
S. Pat Leahy D A
S. Bernie Sanders I Journalist
1. Rob Wittman R Environmental Health Specialist
2. Glenn Nye D Foreign Service Officer
3. Robert C. Scott D A
4. Randy Forbes R A
5. Tom Perriello D A
6. Bob Goodlatte R A
7. Eric Cantor R A, Real Estate Exec
8. Jim Moran D Teacher
9. Rick Boucher D A
10. Frank Wolf R A
11. Gerry Connolly D Public Administrator
S. Jim Webb D Military, Author, Speechwriter
S. Mark Warner D Telecommunications Exec
1. Jay Inslee D A
2. Rick Larsen D Public Affairs Director
3. Brian Baird D Psychologist, College Professor
4. Doc Hastings R Lumber Exec
5. Cathy McMorris Rodgers R Orchardist
6. Norm Dicks D A
7. Jim McDermott D Psychiatrist
8. Dave Reichert R Sheriff, Law Enforcement
9. Adam Smith D A
S. Patty Murray D Teacher
S. Maria antwell D software Exec
1. Adam Mollohan D A
2. Shelley Moore Capito R Career Counselor
3. Nick Rahall D Broadcast Exec
S. Robert Byrd D A, P
S. Jay Rockefeller D College Administrator, P
1. Paul Ryan R Marketing Consultant, P
2. Tammy Baldwin D A
3. Ron Kind D A
4. Gwen Moore D Civic Affairs Specialist
5. Jim Sensenbrenner R A
6. Tom Petri R A
7. Dave Obey D Realtor
8. Steve Kagen D Physician
S. Herb Kohl D Dept. Store Exec, Pro Sports Team Owner (Milwaukee Bucks)
S. Russ Feingold D A
At large. Cynthia Lunnis R A, Rancher
S. Mike Enzi R Accountant, Energy Exec
S. John Barrasso R Orthopedic Surgeon

Well, there you have it, folks. There are currently 200 members of Congress holding law degrees or are practicing attorneys, equating to 37.24% of all members. That occupation or field is far more represented than even its nearest competitor, the banking/finance/investment field, whose members comprise 5.21% of Congress, or Realtors, who make up 3.91%. Farmers/ranchers come in at 3.72%; College Professors the same; Small Business Owners at 3.54%, and Physicians/Surgeons at 3.2%. It would seem that the proportion of lawyers is far above that of the general population in Congress. That is not entirely bad, because if there is a body whose function is to create laws, it is certainly important to have a number of those well acquainted with law contained therein. But when you look at the total number of Congresspersons whose professions prior to entering Congress were well above our median income, it is no wonder the legislation they produce heavily favors business or special interest groups rather than the average worker. They simply do not understand the common person in this country. For you'll note that there are absolutely no bus drivers in Congress. Nor are there any assemblypersons, carpetlayers, welders, foundry workers, cashiers, warehouse workers, or deliverypersons. Nor are there any gardeners, farm hands, cab drivers, draftspersons, hostesses, retail clerks, or wallpaper hangers. Catch my drift?

For this series, I have deliberately used the familiar "Mr. Monopoly" icon at the top of each segment. I did this deliberately, to reinforce how big money and upper income professions hold a near-monopoly on Congressional membership, and how regular workers and lower income people are all but shut out from direct participation. This is a travesty.

Running for Congress and maintaining one's seat is an increasingly expensive undertaking. It opens the door for influence peddlers like lobbyists, and it influences the kind of legislation that is (or is NOT) produced. That is why concentrated capital (big business) gets so much of what it wants in Congress, and you, the average ordinary citizen, get next to nothing or even get tramplewd on. It need not necessarily always be this way.

We obviously want a certain amount of brainpower and expertise running our government. We want to elect people with leadership ability, who have vision and can make sound economic, foreign affairs, and legal decisions. Surely it would be foolhardy to elect unqualified, undereducated people like paperboys or popcorn stand workers, or even ill-informed, frustrated types like "Joe" the phony Plumber to lead the country. But we do need a good amount of common folks with everyday, commonsense backgrounds. We need far more Harry Trumans than John Boehners looking out for the public good in Congress.

The late, great Senator Paul Wellstone once said, "The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power." I couldn't possibly agree more. That is why it is so crucial for everybody to write or email their Congresspersons on occasion to let them know of your situation and your views. You don't have to be a novelist or English major to do this. JUST DO IT! And, next year especially, I hope you will flood your party's precinct caucuses and put in your two cents worth on the type of candidates they will nominate and put forth to run for public office. For if we keep sending the same old out-of-touvh elites to Congress, we'll continue to get the same old out-of-touch results. And then, when you want to bitch about the poor job Congress is doing, you'll only be able to honestly blame yourself. THINK ABOUT IT, PEOPLE!



Vigilante said...

I have high esteem for Jack 'the Ripper' Jodell and this here site. That said, I want to reiterate what I have said before:

1. Forget term limits as a solution to making our legislatures more representative; that's just a way of making them more amateristic, vis-a-vis their more professional lobbyist adversaries.

2. The key to making Legislatures more representative and responsive to the people is to do away with 'safe districts'; a non-partisan (as possible!) governmental body should be established to re-draw Congressional districts to reflect geographical communities.

That way, elections will reflect the changes in popular values and the public interest.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks for your kind words, Vigilante, and you raise some very thought-provoking and, I believe, very valid points here. Our electoral system has been rigged to favor the current Tweedledee, Tweedledum two-party system. This makes it incredibly and nearly always insurmountably expensive for an opposing party to even field a candidate, let alone win an election. And that, of course, makes it easy for corporate America to corrupt and dominate both major parties. This system is clearly broken badly. Thanks for offering some wonderfuWe truly have to stop voting for parties and start voting for candidates and ideas. Thank you for this really constructive food for thought, and keep on shouting! (By the way, Nancy Hanks over at The Hankster would love your point number 2)!

SJ said...

This has been an excellent series. It's marked in my favorites and I'll forward the links along. You continue to post required reading in this Democracy of ours, as always Jack.
Keep swinging for the fences.

you make a good point about term limits, in any case there isn't any possible safeguard to protect our government from being populated with "representatives" enabled by our stupidity or laziness, too bad for all of us.
-And Your idea for Congressional re-districting reform is right on the money.


Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, SJ, and I'll continue swinging for the fences for the little guy, as you put it. The big guys already have it made in the shade, and they need no further help at all from our government.