Republican majorities are wasting away, shriveling because of inactivity, scandal, and self-destruction. Several members have announced they won’t run for re-election in 2018. A frustrated few have even clocked out of Congress early, and soon Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., could do the same.
Dent announced earlier this year that after six terms in Congress, this would be his last. And the liberal Republican made news again Wednesday, telling the New York Times that he might even leave earlier to pursue a career on television. “I have no definitive plans,” he clarified, as if those five non-committal words bring any comfort to the constituents who elected him or the party leadership who defended him.
No one can fault Dent for being sick of Congress, and no one can fault Dent for wanting to try his hand at a sort of journalism (it is the best career, after all). But he should hold off for at least two reasons.
First and most obviously, the good people of Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District deserve a representative who will stick out the term to which he was elected. There is still legislating to be done in 2018, and an early exit without good reason would be unfair to his constituents.
Second, the last thing Republicans need right now is another special election. Early retirement for Dent would trigger another immediate problem for the party. As chairman of the liberal Tuesday Group and as one of the few Republican votes against Obamacare repeal, Dent has already given Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., plenty of headaches. Leaving now would undercut his colleagues and would risk undermining the agenda they worked to achieve.
In short, democracy doesn't need another deadbeat. Dent needs to finish what he started.