causes resentment, then helplessness, and finally, alienation.nIt is a process well underway.nIn theory all we have to do to improve the quality of ourngovernment is to elect better people to office. But votersnrarely evaluate the performance of their representatives withnclarity; congressional incumbents today have virtually lifetimenjob security. The Founding Fathers could not havenimagined anything so contrary to their intent; service innCongress was to be a temporary call to duty for able andnpatriotic citizens, motivated first and foremost by publicninterest. That vision of a fluid House membership, alwaysnresponsive to the people, has faded into oblivion.nIn the 1986 elections, of 392 House incumbents runningnfor reelection, 386 were successful. Fully 246 seats, 56npercent of the total, were either uncontested or were won bynmore than 70 percent of the vote, meaning they weren”safe” — no genuine election challenge could be madenagainst them. Congressmen perform as candidates first andnlegislators only a distant second. They easily achieve a namenrecognition which is hard for most challengers to match.nThey have access to money based largely on their incumbencynand seniority. Most importantly, the gerrymanderingnof congressional districts locks most congressmen into annimpregnable position.nThe people no longer select candidates and elect representatives.nInstead, candidates are designated, prepared,npackaged, presented, and placed in office by power brokersnwho control great supplies of money, influence, and electionnmachinery. The election machinery consists of professionalnfund-raisers, pollsters, advertising and public relationsnexperts.nBut the public is not entirely a collective fool. Withnincreasing alienation comes disenchantment with the electionnprocess itself In the congressional elections of 1986,nover 100 million eligible voters did not vote, one of thenlowest turnouts in our history. Crowing numbers of citizensnapparently sense that their votes are irrelevant to the coursenof government. With many, the disgust at having to choosenbetween equally unattractive candidates is even strongernthan apathy.nPublic indignation was generated—but only temporarily—nin early 1987 when congressional members managednto increase their own pay without going on record asnvoting for it. Indeed, the pay increase was so skillfullynmanaged that it was certain before the vote was taken.nMembers could tell their constituents they had, in fact,nvoted against it, after it was already a fait accompli. This actnof gross hypocrisy was calculated with the voters’ shortnmemories in mind, regardless of the immediate outrage.nIt is not surprising that many citizens see today anCongress that has broken faith with the American people.nWhat confronts them is the traditional pork barrel system,nused by the congressmen as a device for boasting of servicento constituents. Congress becomes an amalgam of local andnregional interests while faking the role of a national legislature.nIn its legislation. Congress has become a purveyor ofnwelfare and happiness. Endless bundles of public moneynhave been thrown at all manner of social ills, failing to effectnsolutions to problems that will not be bought away. This isnfollowed by cries of disillusionment and demands for morenmoney. Congress battens on the faddish illusion of salvationnthrough appropriation. It feeds on the belief that the worldncan become totally satisfying to all and sundry, if only thengovernment is “sensitive,” and the Devil take the publicndebt.nOf particular concern is the growing intrusion of Congressninto the executive branch of government, especially innforeign policy. The Constitution designates the President asncommander of the armed forces and assigns him authoritynfor foreign negotiations. In the Iran-Contra hearings, congressmennwere out in full battle dress, not simply to enforcenthe checks and balances of the republic designed by thenFounding Fathers but to destroy a President and usurp hisnmandated powers. Senator Robert Byrd piously declarednthat Congress only wanted the President to clear himself sonthe government could get on with the job of governing, thusnimputing Mr. Reagan’s horrible guilt of intent.nThe posturing was not lost on many Americans. Theynperceived the self-serving preachments, the hypocrisy, andnthe turf battles, as well as the partisan politics. They also sawnan effort to divert public attention from the real, but failed,ntasks of Congress: the budget deficit, a truly simple and fairntax code, the spreading problem of drugs, increasing crime,nan ever-growing invasion of aliens mainly from south of thenborder, the trade deficit, illiteracy, welfare reform, problemsnof agriculture and the environment, and more.nThis advance of Congress into foreign policy virtuallynassures paralysis, a failure in the nation’s need to serve as denfacto leader of the non-Communist world and to demonstratena strength of purpose and a measure of consistency tonour allies as well as our adversaries. Long before we becamena nation, Montesquieu warned: “Were the executive powernnot to have a right of restraining the encroachments of thenlegislative body, the latter would become despotic.” Wenhave manifestly arrived at that state.nC. Northcote Parkinson takes a discouraging view of thenlong-term prospects for representative government. As democracyndeclines, he writes, the natural evolution leads tonsome form of socialism and then to a dictatorship. (Platonsaid the same thing more than 2,000 years ago.) In 1986,nParkinson’s views were more vivid. In an interview he said,n”Popular democracy as an experiment is dead. No individualncan be expected to handle the U.S. Presidency as it hasnevolved.” And of the legislative branch: “The key weaknessnis that no provision is made to insure that the legislators arencleverer or wiser than the population as a whole, or will votenin the public interest.”nOur Founding Fathers apparently assumed that ourngovernment would be shaped and managed by the brightestnand most public-spirited citizens. Such has not been thencase. For decades we survived the mixed performance ofnCongress, including ineptitude and rascality. But that wasnwhen the role of government was still limited, and our rolenin the world demanded no special responsibility or perception.nAnd besides, we had a lot of just plain good luck.nBut by 1945, national government was well on its way tonmassive intrusion into new areas of state, local, and familynaffairs. Internationally, instead of merely observing events,nwe were now at the vital center of critical action, facingnchallenges which we neither sought nor understood, withnmany other nations relying on us. In the 1950’s our lucknbegan running out. We began to learn that nonpolicies asnnnAUGUST 1988 / 21n