The American Congress

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With reelection rates topping ninety percent, the American Congress is a political institution that rarely sees new faces (Mataconis). Many have wondered, why career politicians are the rule and not the exception. Especially considering that according to a poll conducted by Gallup, only thirteen percent of Americans claim to approve of the job that Congress is doing (Jones). In the scholarly article Congress: The Electoral Connection, author David R. Mayhew contended that there are several factors that contribute to this phenomena in the political system (1975, 339-343). Mayhew commented that factors such as advertising, credit claiming, and position taking contributed to the high incumbency reelection rates; however, I would add that another factor, such as gerrymandering plays a role as well.
First, Mayhew determined that advertising accounted for high rates of reelection for incumbents. In his article, Mayhew explained that politicians would have to come up with a political brand. (1975, 340). Often times that political brand would have to a small amount to do with the issues facing the candidate’s constituents but rather favorable characteristics of the candidate, such as knowledge, concern, and sincerity. An example of this can be found simply by looking at the campaign slogans. In election cycles, slogans like “A name you can trust” are used in association with the candidate’s name. During his 1982 bid for reelection to the Indiana Senate, former Senator Dick Lugar used the slogan, “Dick Lugar, A good man for tough times”(YouTube). These slogans have nothing to do with the merit of the candidate and serve as more of a catchy phrase that allows the constituents remember the candidate’s name.
Mayhew also went on to say that p...

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