Island of Misfit LegislatorsWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Most if not all of the political pundits out there admit that change is on the way in Congress, though there seems to be considerable dispute as to how much. The last numbers that I heard were that close to one hundred Congressional races are currently ‘in play’, with incumbents facing serious challenges and possible ouster from office. In the Senate, where races are run less often and two of the current ones are those to replace the sitting president and vice president, at least fifteen seats are apparently up for grabs.
I won’t go into who might win and lose, as that’s a job for paid political pundits, talking heads, and party spokespeople who make their living by giving a non-stop and constantly changing handicap of this year’s election to voters who largely appear not to care. Neither will I go into whether many of the incumbents currently in these close races deserve to be kept in office or thrown out. Voters will make those decisions on a ballot in but a few short days.
I began to consider lately however how many of the incumbents running for office yet again might actually feel in the days leading up to this vote. I began to acknowledge the dread that they might be going through, knowing that perhaps their salad days in Washington may in fact be coming to an end. In today’s society, we are after all supposed to have compassion for those in difficult situations, even when we might be contributing to their cause. We are likewise asked to show sympathy and charity to them, even when the underlying cause of their angst is one for which we feel at best indifference, at worst actual relish.
It occurred to me then that perhaps these politicians might feel very much like the forgotten residents on The “Island of Misfit Toys” from the stop-motion animation classic of 1964, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. For the few of you who don’t remember the story; toys that were inferior, injured, or simply lacking in some way (remind you of anyone) were somehow able to make their way to a special island set aside just for them. There they lived a life of longing and regret for the home and love that every toy, even those found wanting, deserves. In the travels and travails related to his own purported shortcomings, Rudolph and his intrepid band of companions discover these misfits; showing considerable empathy for their pitiful and pitiable conditions, and vowing to find a way to help them if they could.
Congress certainly seems to have similarly become a home for defective legislators over the years. Members of both parties have gifted us with monumental pieces of lame, inadequate, and tainted bits of legislation serving as examples of their imperfect functioning. Take your pick from the creation of the IRS and the federal income tax by Republicans in the past (yes, this was first passed under Lincoln); to health care and financial reform from the Democrats in the present. They have all done something that we can use as proof of their misfit status. It is of little surprise therefore that many of the current crop of resident legislators find themselves both unloved and unwanted as we prepare once again to choose.
Many of those elected representatives soon to be turned out in the cold may be able to take some heart in their coming island banishment however. The more recently popular “Toy Story” animated series, has taught us that there is always some lingering affection for the playthings of the past, even after they have been replaced by the new and shiny. There is likewise some consolation in the knowledge that this election’s replacements could in but two years, be eligible for similar entrance to the misfit category.
Besides, the November elections are only some seven weeks before Christmas. Perhaps as in the classic story of that equally misfit reindeer who gets to lead Santa’s sleigh in inclement weather, someone will be able to convince the big guy to find a use for all these imperfect lawmakers, delivering them to new homes where they can once again be loved.