Election 2010: Insiders vs. Outsiders

Politics in 2010 has become a battle between the Insiders vs. the Outsiders. As in, “Send me to Washington so I can put an end to ‘politics as usual'”. The problem with that logic is that politicians don’t change Washington; Washington changes politicians.

This November’s election is building up to be a campaign against all the incumbents. Incumbents are always blamed for not getting anything done because, duh, they are the ones with the jobs to do so. But incumbents are not inherently bad–the system is. With the filibuster, and career politicians, and the internet exposing every “misstatement”, how can anyone expect anything to get done? If a Republican or a Democrat wants to vote for something from the other party, they can’t do it for fear of losing their job. Because of our entrenched two-party political system, American politics have turned into one big Coke vs. Pepsi battle: both are essentially the same product in different packaging. And both of them fear the rise of a third competitor.

Voters tend to talk about “throwing the bums out”, but whenever we get a chance to do so we fall back to our inbred political positions and vote for the candidates we think we know. Two examples of this surfaced in the Illinois primaries last night.

In the race for the US Senate seat once held by Barack Obama, Illinois has decided to send one of two political insiders to DC in the fall: State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) and US Representative Mark Kirk (R). Giannoulias is indeed a DC outsider, but he is a political animal with a slightly tainted background from when he ran his family-owned bank into trouble with loan regulators. And Mark Kirk has been in DC for a long time with deep roots as a supporter of the W/Cheney administration. Whomever IL elects in November, they will be sending a political INSIDER to Washington.

It has been said that President Obama was not supportive of Giannoulias because this country is very anti-banking these days, and Alexi’s background in that industry will be like feeding chum to a shark tank when Mark Kirk’s ads begin to break. And no doubt the Giannoulias campaign will show many pictures of Kirk hugging W to remind voters of his right-wing voting record from last decade. The voters will wind up sending one of these two bad options to DC (my prediction: Mark Kirk will win), and nothing will change.

There’s an old saying that the “voters get the kind of politicians they deserve”, which is so true. We talk a good game about changing politics, but we keep sending the same politicians back to work. Politicians will never change the system–only the voters can do that by electing outsiders. So until the voters of the US become fed up with the underperformance of our elected officials and decide to send real outsiders to Washington, we have no one to blame but ourselves.


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