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John Conyers’s resignation from Congress Tuesday was more than just a victory for the victims of sexual assault. It also signaled the passage of the last member of Congress who was first elected to that body in the 1960s.
The two may seem unrelated, but Conyers’s tale is just the latest example of a politician who stays in office so long that he begins to think himself a king. Rejecting Conyers should be a step toward also rejecting the career politicians who dominate Washington.
Conyers - Year - President - Lyndon - Johnson
Conyers was first elected in 1964, the year President Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in an Electoral College landslide. Another congressman elected from Michigan that year was Fifth District Republican Gerald R. Ford, who was still ten years away from becoming our 38th president.
Johnson, Goldwater, and Ford are all dead now. In fact, nearly everyone elected to the 89th Congress from Michigan that year is now dead (John Dingell is one long-lived exception; four other long-retired Michigan congressmen also soldier on in their nineties.) All of these men (and one woman) who were elected before men walked on the moon were defeated years ago or else had the good sense to retire already. All but Conyers.
Desire - Power - Way - Frailties - Thanks
His desire to cling to power is understandable, in the way that all human frailties are understandable. Thanks to the racial gerrymandering required by the Voting Rights Act, Conyers had an extremely safe district—his lowest percentage of the vote in his 27 elections was 77 percent. His control over the local party was strong enough not only to stave off serious primary challenges, but also to dole out local offices among his family members like a medieval prince dispensing sinecures. Conyers had it good.
Human beings do not react well to that level of protection. We become haughty, arrogant, and entitled. So it was...
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