People are really fed up with Congress, and it’s easy to see why. They put two wars on our Chinese Express credit card and then wonder how the deicit got so bad. They fail to set the rules for Wall Street and then throw the keys to the Treasury at Goldman Sachs when it all blows up. You kind of wonder if, say, a icus plant might have done better.
And that’s just what rabble-rouser Michael Moore was thinking back in 2000 when he put a ficus on the ballot in New Jersey to run against an unopposed Congressional candidate. With a slogan of “Because a Potted Plant Can Do No Harm,” 22 more ficus insurgencies were mounted around the nation. Of course the local election committee in New Jersey disallowed the write-in campaign, but the point was made: A ficus has a better chance against an incumbent than most humans.
Since 1996, between 94 percent and 98 percent of Congressional incumbents are reelected. Remember that “revolution” year in 1994? That time “only” nine out of 10 incumbents were safe.
Polling also routinely shows that while people loathe Congress in general (at the moment, its approval rating is in the low 20s), they tend to give their own representative a pass. Weird.
Now comes the news that there probably won’t be a Democratic challenger to Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her bursting-with-lobbyist-money war chest. The Democratic Party is conceding the 5th District. Which has me thinking about our old friend the ficus.
The opportunity is ripe for a beauty of a protest — an absurd, humor-based, so-crazy-it-makes-perfect-sense campaign. The genius is that you start out planning to lose, so you can say whatever you want to challenge the system that sends back the same people who got us into this mess nearly 100 percent of the time.
So let’s see an Independent, a Green or even a Rodent third-party effort. (Wouldn’t Marty the Marmot for Congress be the cutest thing ever? T-shirt sales alone could fund the entire campaign.)
Or maybe let’s make it legit and ind a longtime 5th District human resident, who’s not with any party, to lead us to symbolic defeat by carrying the tattered banner of the citizen legislator against the iron boot of the professional politician’s machine.
If you’re out there, let us know; we’d love to report on a campaign of some kind over the coming months.
Ted S. McGregor Jr. is the Editor and Publisher of The Inlander.