A Permanent Governing Class

A few days ago John Dingell, 87, the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, announced that he was retiring after the longest congressional career in history. Now sources are saying that his 60-year-old wife will run for his seat and is expected to be elected.

Dingell has served in Congress, representing the same district in southeastern Michigan, since 1955. That was one year after Elvis Presley released his first single and 11 Presidents ago. And here’s the kicker — Dingell succeeded his father as Congressman for the district. If his wife wins the seat, there will have been three Dingells in succession, over a period of seven different decades.

In my view, there’s just something weird and wrong about the same family holding the same congressional seat for such a long period of time. It smacks too much of a permanent governing class for my democratic tastes. I think members of the House and the Senate will be a lot more mindful of their constituents, and a lot less lordly in their behavior, if they actually have a meaningful risk of losing an election.

Isn’t there someone not named Dingell who could capably represent the district?

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