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Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll

Do you think security should be heightened for members of Congress when they’re in their districts?

Democrats (26 votes)

Yes: 50%
No: 42%
Depends (volunteered): 8%


“But selectively: Senators and representatives, as well as their staff members and law-enforcement agencies, as a rule need to become more vigilant in recognizing potential threats, while taking seriously those which come to their attention.”

“What must also be heightened, however, is an awareness of how
our culture of violence, our lack of gun control, and our lack of adequate mental-health services all played into Arizona’s actions.”

“In my experience, even when there are specific threats from individuals with serious criminal records, e.g., a state prison record for a violent offense, no real assistance is provided by Capitol Police
or local officials.”


“Of course we need to take precautions in view of this latest tragedy. However, we cannot allow a situation to grow where we become distant from our constituents. We must not have a wall built around us. That would be horrible, and a blow to our democracy.”

“There will always be nuts who can harm anyone.”

“I don’t believe we can do our jobs if we feel unsafe or insecure. However, this is still an open and free society, and we shouldn’t be building up fortresses around ourselves because of one lunatic’s actions.”

“But we should be conscientious about working with local law enforcement.”


“Public servants should never put barriers between themselves and the people they serve.”

“We can’t do this job in a bubble.”

“Information and training should be made available for local law enforcement who may be called upon to protect members and their constituents during public events.”

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“How? Not bodyguards or popemobiles.”

“Depends on the size and scope of the event.”


Do you think security should be heightened for members of Congress when they’re in their districts?

Republicans (30 votes)

Yes: 40%
No: 50%
Depends (volunteered): 7%
Up to the individual member (volunteered): 3%

“In that more due diligence should be done for public events. They don’t need their own private security detail. However, more precautions should be taken in the district, particularly with access 

to the office and staff.

“My district office is particularly susceptible to a security breach.”

“Unless circumstances on the ground require it. Use common sense.”

“Members are best at using their own judgment to anticipate when and where additional security is warranted when doing events in the district. However, there should be standard security measures that district offices follow in order to keep both the member and staff safe and secure.”

“What happened in Tucson was shocking because such things are so rare. Individual members haven’t needed security in their districts and among their constituents for 230 years. They don’t need it now.”

“Except when a specific threat is suspected.”

“If members on a case-by-case basis believe they need it, they should work with local law enforcement.”

“It should be up to the individual. There is only so much you can do
to protect yourself from a deranged sociopath.”

“It is a broad issue which needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”

“This is not a yes-or-no issue.”

Up to member
“Members need to take on the responsibility for security in their district offices and protecting their district staff. Work with local law enforcement to enhance safety.”



How would you characterize the quality of political discourse these days?

Democrats (26 votes)

Excellent: 0%
Uneven (volunteered)4%

“There are definitely those that rely on using irresponsible rhetoric, but most understand how to exhibit their passion without inciting incidents like those on Saturday.”

“Usually fine, but often pushed to the edges by political opportunists, talk-show hosts and the ratings demands of 24-hour so-called news stations. Divisiveness has become just another tool and is too often rewarded and encouraged.”

This article appears in the January 15, 2011 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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