Of all the interesting (and troubling) things that have come to light as a result of the recent financial crisis, one of the most interesting — to me at least — came tonight: Chuck Todd appeared on NBC Nightly News with some data he ran on today’s bailout vote. It turns out most of those who voted “yes” to the bailout aren’t involved in close re-election campaigns (or haven’t been in the past) and most that voted “no” are (or have been).
So essentially, representatives that are scared about their re-election prospects voted no and representatives that aren’t voted yes. No numerical breakdowns were given, but that was the overview.
This is troubling on a number of fronts:
- It shows that our politicians are reacting to a bona fide crisis not on the merits of the crisis but rather on the circumstances of their re-election. This happens a lot, of course, but during a potentially devastating crisis, it’s troubling.
- It shows that what a lot of people think is the “smart” thing to do (passing the bailout), is not the “popular” thing to do. If you believe that your representative should do what you want them to do, the numbers say this bill should not pass (over 50% of Americans think it’s bad). If, however, you think that representatives should do what *they* think is best for you, it should probably pass (most representatives seem to think it’s needed, regardless of how they voted today).
- It shows that politics have absolutely become part of a situation that needs to be solved jointly by both parties.
- It shows that many members of Congress as well as many Americans don’t actually understand what this plan is designed to prevent and who it benefits. It may not be a perfect plan, but it’s not designed to “bail out Wall Street fat cats”. It may not punish Wall Street CEOs like many people would prefer it to, but if you want to do that, do it with a lawsuit.
I can only hope that the failure of the bill eventually just causes us to pass a better bill later this week, but you have to wonder a bit when George W. Bush, Barack Obama, John McCain, and the controlling party in the House all agree on something and Congress still won’t pass it. It’s no wonder why only 14% of Americans approve of the job they are doing.
(Side note: That Gallup site is a pretty spectacular destination for information. Great graphs and polls, updated daily.)