xii Introduction This book came about from the desire to understand just what the game costs us—the American taxpayers. “Throw the bums out!” Whether it’s a hapless outfielder, an ineffective pitcher, or a player or manager from the opposing team, we’ve applied that metaphor to legislators, usually from the opposing party, and even to politicians in general,1 accord- ing to polls taken over the last few decades. If the unprecedented wave of rookies drafted into the House of Representatives during the 116th Con- gress is any indication, the American taxpayers were clearly ready to change the rules of the game. Yet, Congressional job approval polls show that while satisfaction has marginally increased because of some fresh faces, roughly 75 percent of those surveyed still do not approve of Congress’s overall performance. Yet, we’re not the only ones who subscribe to that sentiment: long-time lawmakers are leaving of their own accord, saying the game has changed to the point of being no longer recognizable, and not for the better. John Dingell [D-CA] first walked onto the floor in 1955. Though he became one of the era’s most consequential legislators over six decades, he endured his share of setbacks . . . But not until this year did he decide the atmosphere was so toxic, so “obnoxious,” that he could not continue serv- ing . . . This is not the Congress I know and love.2 That sentiment was echoed by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), who was quoted on his way out as saying: “It’s been frustrating because of the extremism . . . . Nothing seems to be happening.”3 Sounds like Congress as we know it today, doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe that Congress’s reputation—their batting average, so to speak—with the public and within their own chambers could be any worse than it is now. But these quotes are from 2013 and 2014, when Congress’s job approval ratings dropped to historic lows of 9 percent. By 2014, members on both sides of the aisle were expressing their frustra- tion with the hyperpartisanship and inability to function. It seems the game is constantly postponed, with neither team ready for prime time. Congress- man Waxman’s retirement came after more than 20 terms in office. Repre- sentative John Dingell served for almost 50 years. Both cited their frustration with the institution as the reason for leaving, and they weren’t alone. “More than 30 House members have announced they will retire, resign or run for other offices this year, including stalwarts like George Miller, Democrat of California Tom Latham, Republican of Iowa Frank R. Wolf, Republican of Virginia and Howard P. McKeon of California, chairman of the Armed
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