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Magazine / Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll

January 13, 2011

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.”

“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.”


“Too toxic.”

“The tone of certitude on the issues and the dehumanization of opponents are not only unproductive but dangerous.”

“Talking in pejorative sound bites like ‘Obamacare’ rather than debating the issues has replaced any sort of semblance of civil political discourse.”

“Way too many conspiracy theories, and not enough responsible people to denounce them.”

“While the fact is that a lot of important work was done last session—all of which required some bipartisan cooperation—the nature of the public debate on serious issues of the day is more shrill than meaningful.”

“Emotional political rhetoric has been constant through history, but the difference is today’s accessibility to guns and the disposition to use them against politicians.”

“The right wing asserts that mainstream Democrats are attempting to subvert the country for proposing matters that Republicans recently proposed themselves. Political discourse is degraded and
the future of the country threatened.”

“Many of us have been threatened with assassination!”

“The quality of that discourse is uneven these days.”


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

Republicans (30 votes)

Excellent: 0%
Better, improving (volunteered)7%
Why ask (volunteered)3%

“The quality will continue to increase as the public becomes more involved and better able to see through the demagoguery.”

“But better than it was in the violent and polarized era of the civil-rights movement, Vietnam, and Watergate.”

“It is good when the public is engaged and debating public policy. But unfortunately, both sides are guilty of manipulating the debate and twisting the facts to the detriment of a curious public.”

“It lacks civility and is much more emotional, and deteriorates into personal attacks and insults far more often than not.”

“We live in a reality-TV world that is fueled by a news cycle driven by online content that changes multiple times a day. Power is linked to visibility, and the only way to get visible is to say something controversial or outrageous.”

“No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, you hear lots of heightened rhetoric from people.”

Better, improving
“People aren’t calling the president a Nazi or putting up signs that say ‘Bush lied.’ On a congressional level, it’s no better, no worse than times past.”

Why ask
“I can’t resist asking: What does this question have to do with the Arizona shooting? The motivations of the mentally ill shooter are yet unknown, except, of course, to the ‘I-haven’t-talked-to-the-shooter-but-am-certain-the-tea-party-is-to-blame’ sheriff of Pima County. Shouldn’t we get the facts—just a few—before we focus on political discourse as the cause?”


Democratic Congressional Insiders  Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Mikulski, Mark Pryor, Jon Tester, Tom Udall, Mark Warner; Reps. Jason Altmire, Robert Andrews, Tammy Baldwin, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Dennis Cardoza, James Clyburn, Gerry Connolly , Jim Cooper, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Steve Israel, Jim Langevin, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Gary Peters, Collin Peterson, David Price, Silvestre Reyes, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Allyson Schwartz, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, Pete Stark, Bennie Thompson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman, Peter Welch, and Frederica Wilson.

GOP Congressional Insiders  Sens. Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Richard Lugar, Jeff Sessions, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Michele Bachmann, Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, John Boehner, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, Charlie Dent, David Dreier, Jo Ann Emerson, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte,Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Darrell Issa, Peter King, Jack Kingston, John Kline, Christopher Lee, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Dave Reichert, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Phil Roe, Paul Ryan, Aaron Schock, Pete Sessions, Adrian Smith, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, Daniel Webster, and Joe Wilson.

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