Congress' disapproval ratings now in the mid to high 70% range. But who thinks 70% of Congressional incumbents will be unelected this November? (See graphs below). No one! What is this incredible disconnect all about?
Many of us have read about the "Not My Rep" syndrome. That's where voters assert that it is other voter's representatives responsible for Congressional waste, fraud, and abuse of power, but not their own. Research supports this phenomena as active and in play. But, why?
The simplest answer comes from the field of psychology, and is called 'cognitive dissonance' theory. Fancy name for a simple concept. If you buy a lemon car but know you can't afford to replace it, you are likely to rationalize it wasn't such a bad purchase after all. The reason one rationalizes this way is so they can get in and drive that lemon without getting furious every time they open its door. In other words, cognitive dissonance theory predicts that people will shift the blame or rationalize poor decisions as good ones to reduce the tension in their mind and emotions over their action.
And the research demonstrates this kind of rationalization over our mistakes or poor choices is very, very prevalent. In fact, much of the marketing and advertising which goes on is predicated on this knowledge. Take a cheap product, put a high price on it, and most buyers will never complain or return the product. To do so, would be to admit they erred in buying it in the first place, and human beings are just not predisposed to admitting errors and flaws in judgment or choices.
So when it comes to electing Congress people, it is easier to blame other voter's choices than our own. Less tension and emotional dissonance that way. At some point however, if Congress' actions cause great hardship for most Americans, or most Americans perceive that to be the case, there is safety in numbers when a majority can support each other in having been duped by their Congress. There is a lot of evidence in the rise of Independent voter rolls to suggest that Americans are reaching that point.
Democrats aren't. Republicans aren't. Each holds to the belief that if only their party had full and unobstructed control of government, all would be set to right. But, when one acknowledges that belief is in play, one is hard pressed to accept as a valid, rational, and logical belief. It is irrational because under our system, one party will NEVER have full and unobstructed control of government. Therefore, the belief is invalid.
More and more Republicans and Democrats are coming to this realization and joining the ranks of the Independent voters, who want and desire to hold Congress responsible for their actions. So they switch their party vote or vote for a third party or independent candidate like Nader to register their discontent.
The problem with this phenomenon is that Independents have no other action to bind them together as a force in American politics. They end up splitting along Dem. and Rep. lines since these are the only viable choices they recognize as available on election day. And nothing changes. The D's and R's play musical chairs with power and control of government, and between their war with each other, America's future worsens.
That is why the Vote Out Incumbents message is very vital to America's future. It provides Independent voters with another choice on election day. They can choose to vote for a challenger, any challenger to unseat the incumbent. And when and if 30 or 40% of incumbents find themselves getting the boot in one or two election cycles, every Congress person will awaken to a new reality in American politics. That reality will be a united Independent voter class demanding solutions as the price of staying in office.
Spread the word, email, blog, write letters to the editor, phone your representative and tell them what your are going to do on election day. Help unite fellow independent voters and act as if you are one amongst millions voting out incumbents. If you do this, there will be an election in which you will vote where 30 or 40% of incumbents actually do get VOIDed. And on that day, independent voters can lay claim to being responsible for saving America's future.
(Graph courtesy of Pollster.com, May 15, 2007.)