THAT CONGRESS has never beennheld in greater contempt at any time innits two centuries is something all availablenevidence, whether statistical ornimpressionistic, indicates. When ournnoble Conscript Fathers, a few monthsnback, undertook to promote themselvesna little pay raise, public outragenachieved its greatest negative unanimitynsince the Japanese hit Peari Harbor.nThe unmistakable expression of thenpeople’s will has not fazed the people’snrepresentatives in the least, and the paynraise is back again.nThe same public that regards ournrepresentatives as little more than matternfor cynical jokes regularly reelectsnthem to their posts at a rate in excess ofn90 percent, also a two-century record.nIf we were any longer able to bensurprised, we would regard this as anvery startling paradox. Some attentionnhas been paid to the excessive incumbencynproblem, but not enough. Politicalnoperatives blame it on gerrymanderingnand the advantages of incumbencynin name-recognition, etc. RalphnNader, strangely, blames it on PACS,nthough PACS, indeed, are the onlynpowers in the land with enoughnstrength to challenge incumbency.nNone of these explanations evennbegin to get at the question. Thenexistence of either aspect of the currentnsituation, not to mention the paradox,nwould have been prima facie evidencento our Founding Fathers of a gravencrisis in republican government — ofndefects and perversions so fundamentalnin the people and the principles as toncall into question the whole foundationnof representative government.nOur present situation is, in fact,nmerely the result of long-term changesnthat have been accumulating for somentime but that have only recently becomenapparent — changes that havenaltered the essence of our governmentnfrom republican to imperial. In governmentnwe must look at the thing itself,nnot at the name. Nothing could benmore delusive than to believe that deadnnames and forms preserve somethingnwhen its living essence is gone.nOur Congress as it stands is purelynand simply the natural and normalnspawn of the Great Society. While wenCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnhave not quite reached the Utopianpromised by Lyndon Johnson, we havenachieved an immense patronage machinenthat extends with a thousandnarms into every congressional districtnand every community and almost intonevery home. The federal governmentnis now a great giant who presents usnwith endless goodies, but who alsondemands steady tribute and who mightncarelessly roll over and crush us tondeath.nOur congressmen have simplynadapted themselves to function in naturalnharmony with the Great Societyn— itself a perversion of representativendemocracy. They are its creatures.nThey are not lawmakers — they do notnnngo to Washington to give the law tonLeviathan. Rather, they are brokers, ornat best ombudsmen, who are in anposition to coax and coddle the giantninto throwing some of his goodies ournway. To put it another way, they arennot primarily the representatives of ourncommunities to the government, butnprimarily the delegates of the governmentnto our communities. They worknfor the government and not for us.nOnly a minimal amount of cunningnis needed in a congressman to sit atopnthe flow of largess from Washingtonnand take credit for it. He need onlynmake sure that a sufficient number ofncitizens are paid off, in some way ornanother, to guarantee reelection tonFEBRUARY 1990/5n