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Discontent with the federal government is at a level not seen since the Nixon administration four decades ago.

What’s to be done about it?

Well, we could clean house all around; vote the whole bunch of them out of office. But there is plenty of motivation for those officeholders to stay on the job. Where else could they get health care coverage and retirement plans like that? Not to mention the other perks of office: trips to exotic places to allegedly study this and that. They don’t like to call those trips “junkets” because that sounds too much like what they are: unnecessary luxury freebies at taxpayer expense.

It can cost millions of dollars to win a U.S. Senate or House of Representatives seat that pays $174,00 a year plus health care and retirement benefits far greater than the average American will ever enjoy. And they are fully vested after serving just five years in office. A Senator who has served a single six-year term can retire to a lifetime of luxury. A Representative who serves three two-year terms, likewise.

Ask any voting American—and many who don’t vote, but complain about the situation—what should be the first step toward getting a Congress that actually works in the taxpayer’s interests and you will get the same answer: vote the rascals out.

However, they don’t mean their rascals, they mean your rascals. When election time comes around they routinely vote for the incumbent in their district. “It’s the Senator in Montana who should be kicked out” says the voter in Missouri. “It’s the Congressman in Pennsylvania who should be shown the door,” says the voter from Utah. The power of the incumbency is staggering. In part it is because the person who already holds that office has all manner of promotional opportunities at his and her disposal: free U.S. Mail services; appearance before the media to sing their own praises. The incumbent’s prospective challenger has no such platform.

The number of Senators and Representatives in Congress whose personal fortunes grew while in office is staggering. More than a few Congress members who were dead broke when they took office have retired as millionaires.

Keep in mind that they make the laws that give them those special benefits.

I once knew a state senator—I won’t mention the state—who owned a new car dealership. He didn’t take cash under the table. That would have been illegal. But he did sell a lot of cars to CEOs of companies maneuvering for his support the next time a vote came up that favored that company.

Here is another myth that needs to be debunked. Lawmakers seldom write the laws and industry regulations they sponsor. Those are frequently written by lobbyists who represent special interests. They are full of loopholes that, in effect, mean there is no regulation at all. When confronted with a violation, the company representatives can simply say, “We followed the law.” The law he wrote.

And here is another sad fact: Except for how it affects their chances for reelection and keeping them out of prison, these violators of the public trust don’t really care what you think about it. They will continue to do whatever benefits them.

This November, vote for the opposing candidate so the person you voted out of office can join a lobbying firm and make some real money.

Steve Liddick

Author of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”