Time Essay: In Defense of Politicians: Do We Ask Too Much?

The 94th Congress that assembled last week is sprinkled with bright new members who seem intent on embarking in new directions. Oddly enough, this promising shift is the result of last November's torpid election, in which only 38% of Americans of voting age cast ballots. That apathetic performance confirms a disillusionment with politicians that has been gathering for a long time.

"From the beginning of the Republic," House Speaker Nicholas Longworth once complained, "it has been the duty of every freeborn humorist to make jokes at us." He may have had in mind Mark Twain's crack that Congress is our only native...

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