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Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:23 PM

What's the matter with Congress? Not enough farmers and cowboys (interactive)

Most Americans seem to agree that Congress is seeped in a primordial soup of dysfunction, to put it lightly. When it comes to how things got to this point, there are more theories than there are representatives to theorize about. Some say money has corrupted lawmakers, others say the electoral system is broken, and one guy even thinks the 435-member House is too small.

Most of these explanations are agnostic as to who the members of Congress actually are. As we gear up for another round of hearty outrage at our legislators—there’s a debt-ceiling vote coming up—I would like to propose an alternative explanation: If Americans want broad agreements from Congress, they are electing the wrong type of people. It’s not the system. It’s us.

To measure how the makeup of Congress has changed over the decades and centuries, I turned to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, which maintains short biographies of nearly every one of the 12,000 people to serve in the U.S. legislature since day one of the country.

theres a reall cool tool there, you can search their biographies for any keyword you like....interesting results!


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