In his (Ted’s) book True Compass, his defining autobiography written almost in his final days of life, Ted Kennedy speaks of his first days in the senate as a freshman senator just barely old enough to hold the seat. And he speaks of another, famous senator whom he himself no doubt admired giving a rousing speech in favor of a bill. This famous senator went on about how everyone should vote for it, how it was imperative that they vote for it., that they must vote for it. He then promptly sat down and himself voted no.
Kennedy was surprised, and asked the senator why he had done this. The senator responded “my state is evenly split on this topic. To those that are for this bill I will send them my speech, to those that oppose it I will send them my vote.”
The most disturbing thing about the story is that it’s not that disturbing. As that now forgotten senator voted on that now forgotten bill he probably thought he was doing himself a favor, he was getting other people’s votes and they thought they were getting a good deal. It’s a thing that is still a problem today, perhaps even more of a problem than it was then. We elect people to go to congress to get things done, not play golf or patty cake. But the gridlock and the problems continue.
Congress is well known for not being well liked, just today, their disapproval rating stands at near 80%, but also, notoriously, while people don’t like congress, they like their congressman, or woman, usually because they are giving them their speech, if not their vote. At election time, and throughout the year while we are watching congress, remember this, why should I give them my vote, if they don’t give me theirs?
Andrew C. Abbott