Sad Tea Party freshman hates his stupid new job

Rep. Steve Southerland wishes he'd never gotten elected to Congress -- he only makes six figures!

By Alex Pareene

Published August 26, 2011 8:30PM (EDT)

Rep. Steve Southerland
Rep. Steve Southerland

From Dave Weigel comes the sad tale of Rep. Steve Southerland, a "tea party" freshman representing Florida's 2nd District. Southerland learned the hard way that being a congressman is not all fun and games. He barely earns enough to get by!

He said his $174,000 salary is not so much, considering the hours a member of the House puts in, and that he had to sever ties with his family business in Panama City. Southerland also said there are no instant pensions or free health insurance, as some of his constituents often ask him about in Congress.

Median income in Southerland's district: $34,718.

(And the health insurance isn't "free," but it is high-quality group private insurance with relatively cheap plans subsidized by Southerland's employer, the federal government. And he'll qualify for the pension in a couple of years, if he's reelected.)

He's also upset that he isn't allowed to run his family business while serving as a congressman. There was apparently an actual civics teacher in attendance, to laugh at him:

Marty Monroe, a "recovering civics teacher" visiting her parents at Westminster Oaks, was unsympathetic.

"Why didn't he know that going in, about conflicts of interests? Would you want members to be also running a business on the side?" Monroe said.

And finally, Southerland is upset that people want to hurt him:

"And by the way, did I mention? They're shooting at us. There is law-enforcement security in this room right now, and why is that?" Southerland told about 125 people in an auditorium at the Westminster Oaks retirement community.

This I do feel bad about. I mean, it must be awful to be surrounded by armed guards because a certain political movement whipped up a nationwide atmosphere of apocalyptic paranoia and deep loathing of the supposedly tyrannical federal government. I really wish we knew which political party had enabled and encouraged that sort of thing! I remember that whichever one it was had a lot of guns and enjoyed showing them off. (Was it the League of Women Voters?)

So, all in all, seems like this Southerland guy hates his stupid job, being a congressman.

Setup: "If you think this job pays too much, with those kinds of risks and cutting me off from my family business, I'll just tell you: This job don't mean that much to me. I had a good life in Panama City."

Punch line: "He's running for a second term"

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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