Across the country there has been a wave of resignations and retirements from members of congress who have served only a short time after spending significant personal energy to become elected. Since January, 22 members of congress have left or have announced they will retire at the end of the term. Of those, 18 are Republican members. With a revolving door at the federal level, it begs the question, why are members leaving a job they spent so much personal sweat equity and money to get?
In Michigan, two congressmen have, or will, end their time in congress after serving only two terms in office. Congressman Dave Trott retired at the end of 2018. In an exit interview with the Detroit News, Trott said that “his primary motivation for retiring was that the job had become dominated by “dialing for dollars” — the need to always be raising money for the next campaign.”
Congressman Paul Mitchell has served just 33 months in after spending millions of his personal money to get elected. He announced this summer he will not seek reelection to congress. In an op-ed explaining why he is leaving Mitchel wrote: “these days politics overwhelms policy in Washington. Members of both parties trade political barbs rather than work constructively to find solutions. As long as members of congress on both sides of the aisle prioritize reelection over real solutions, nothing is going to get better.”
Additionally, there are long serving members of congress leaving. Some of those former members have transitioned from serving in federal offices to local government. For example, former Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller now serves as the Macomb County Public Works Commissioner. When asked about why other members are making the same transition from federal to local government she said, “I’m not surprised to hear of others choosing to do that (leave), because guess what? You can actually have an impact almost daily. And after beating a pillow for years in the U.S. Congress, I go home, and I can measure what I did that day.”
While many people cite serving in congress as their ultimate goal, once elected they find out that it may not be as easy of a job as they previously believed.
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