After Eric Massa's claim on Glenn Beck two nights ago that he no longer had the energy for the allegedly arduous, time-consuming task of fundraising, Politico sent some reporters to suss out the truth behind his defeated grousing. What they discovered was irritating.
Politico reports that many freshman members of Congress feel frustrated and weighed down by the pressure to raise money for their reelection bids. Here's what the dozen members involved in the article told Politico:
They described days packed with research about potential donors, trips down the block to the boiler-room-style call centers operated by the campaign committees and hours of mind-numbing calls dialed from cramped cubicles. "How much do I like doing it? I hate it. It's the worst," one House freshman remarked to POLITICO during a vote this week. "I hate fundraising. I make no bones about it."
"It's kind of like going from alpha to omega," said the first-termer, pointing from the House floor to the direction of the campaign committee headquarters where he makes his fundraising calls. "I don't know many people who like it. And if they do like it, there is probably something wrong with them."
"It's actually sad," lamented a freshman Democrat who spends one to two hours a day dialing for dollars. "I don't think most of us when we ran for office thought we'd be spending so much time raising money."
Forgive me for not shedding tears over our representatives having to do the dull part of their jobs. But that's not even the annoying part.
Every job has aspects that aren't enjoyable. In my experience, you tend, like these freshmen members, not to expect these less fun duties when you're first employed. Many years ago I worked for a prestigious management consulting firm. There were few things in that job that I liked less than making round after round of edits to my boss's PowerPoint slides. It was tedious and time-consuming, and sometimes, if you missed one of the hundreds of edits, you got yelled at. A lot. But for a junior associate, that was just part of the gig. I felt lucky to have the job, so, like the rest of my peers, I just sucked it up.
The difference between junior associates and freshmen members of Congress is that associates don't have the power to change the duties involved in their job. These freshmen do. Their jobs are in their hands. If they hate fundraising so much, why aren't they pushing for campaign-finance reform? Why won't they go on the record to argue that the power of money in electoral politics has gotten so pervasive that it's preventing them from focusing on the real work they were sent to D.C. to do? Why aren't they railing over the deleterious effect of cash on their capacity to effectively govern?
Instead, these closeted grumblers give blind quotes to Politico and then continue to perpetuate a system they both hate and know firsthand undermines the public good. Nice.