Back in January, I wrote a piece in usnews.com basically laying out the case that a slew of really really old Members of Congress were probably going to just bag it and retire. Their fundraising was pitiful, they hadn’t paid their party dues and what’s worse, they’re hanging onto every stinking campaign dime in their coffers like a bunch of Egyptian mummies. Many of these old bulls have since announced they’ll be leaving after this fall’s elections. Some are great progressives, some just plain suck.
Let’s be honest. You’ve got men and women who’ve been in Congress since before I was born, who are sitting on hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars, and aren’t doing a damn thing to help their less fortunate colleagues get re-elected. I actually don’t believe in term limits; that’s what voters are supposed to do. But many of these folks are greedy bastards who have no lives other than marble hallways and leather chairs.
Now in my column, I only focused on Democrats since I was only able to get my greedy little hands on the fundraising chart for the House Democratic Caucus. I asked the Republicans if I could see their list and they didn’t respond. Shocker.
Since then many of these guys have announced their retirements, guys like Rep. John Dingell (MI) and Rep. George Miller (CA). These two guys are great progressives and have been in the forefront of fighting the good fight. But they’re basically out and let’s pray like hell young progressives replace them. 10 Democrats and 13 Republicans to date will be gone in the next Congress.
There are others retiring from Congress as well who don’t really have any seniority. Perhaps the biggest asshat in all of Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), is leaving. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass Michele. I’ll actually miss her since literally every word that comes out of her mouth is a Saturday Night Live mini-skit. Soooo much to play with, to write about, to talk about. And all that will go away come November. But I digress.
One old bull still standing whose time has sadly passed is Rep. Charlie Rangel (NY). Rangel has represented parts of Harlem since 1971. He’s debonair, a Korean War veteran, and has had a hand in nearly every piece of progressive legislation since the dawn of time. But then there are his seemingly endless ethics violations. Rangel has been the ongoing subject of investigation by the House “Ethics” Committee since 2008. No that’s not a joke. Finally, on December 2, 2010 Rangel was censured by the full House of Representatives. He stands as only the 23rd Member of the House to be censured in its entire history.
While I’m appreciative of Rangel’s service to our country, his time is up. It’s time for some fresh blood in Congress. Last cycle, Rangel barely survived a primary fight from state Senator Adriano Espaillat by just over 1,000 votes. Espaillat is challenging him again and this time, he just may win in late June. He’s gotten the endorsements of the New York City Council chairwoman and the Bronx Borough president. Now Espaillat is no spring chicken at 59 but he doesn’t have an ethics track record a mile deep.
Bottom line: many of these old bulls need to be thrown out. It’s one thing to be old, wise, and the master player in the game. It’s another to be one of 23 censured Members of Congress and still earning a taxpayer check. So yes, even progressives should know when their time is up and I would welcome a slew of new progressives to the halls of Congress to shake things up.