The message from a recent Gallop poll for Wyoming’s congressional delegation is a simple one: Smart money is your job is safe, so feel free to talk less and work more.
The July survey suggested what similar polls have said since the 1960s, according to James King, head of the political science department at the University of Wyoming. Locals don’t blame Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso or Rep. Cynthia Lummis for the problems in Washington. As the polls go, our guys and gal aren’t the problem.
We back it up by re-electing them. Again and again. All three are in their third terms. None of their most recent campaigns could be described as competitive. Lummis faced the stiffest challenge in 2012; she won with 68 percent of the vote.
Nationwide, congressional incumbents win re-election 90 percent of the time.
“For a long time we’ve known that people love their members of Congress but hate their Congress as a whole,” King told the Star-Tribune’s Kyle Roerink. “It’s not a new trend.”
We recognize that part of the dilemma is a numbers game. Lummis is but one of 435 representatives; Enzi and Barrasso are two of 100. We elect them again and again because, as King put it, they “share our values, but we disagree with many of the others.”
But the overriding frustration stems from recent failures and fumbles by the D.C. comics as a whole.
Sequestration, Obamacare, departmental scandals and embarrassments, out-of-control debt and that overblown fiscal cliff have many believing that government at the national level is beyond repair. Yet, overwhelmingly, we continually send the same group responsible for the widespread mess back to Washington to play point-the-finger rather than fix-the-problem.
The Wyoming trio is, unfortunately, keen at the former. From loaded press releases to a bevy of national television appearances, our guys and gal talk a big game. The made-for-media moments of outrage are a D.C. rite of passage.
We continue to hear from them all the ills of Obamacare, but we don’t see a lot of middle ground. We’d feel better if they outlined their successes and struggles with compromise rather than their best efforts to thwart it.
Government works best when those making the decisions are working toward solutions.
For voters, that means we should expect more of our elected officials. We wouldn’t have elected them if we didn’t like them. And there’s good reason to continue to like them. But that doesn’t mean they should get a free pass on doing the work of Wyoming and the work of the country.
Few would argue that there’s too much of that happening in the capital right now.
Here’s an idea for Enzi, Barrasso and Lummis: Your re-election is virtually guaranteed. Don’t be afraid to work. Don’t be afraid to lead. Don’t be afraid to compromise.