We’ll be voting Tuesday, November 8th. Well, we’re supposed to be voting Tuesday, November 8th. In an off-year election, as a matter of habit, fewer than half the eligible voters in this holy land bother to fill out a ballot.
Although in the wake of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade this past June, there may well be a flood of energized voters this time around. We’ll see. Back in 2016 I learned not to predict anything when it comes to elections in this democratic republic.
Off-year elections — that is, those national elections between presidential beauty pageants — are as important…, nay, are even more important than most quadrennial contests for the White House. Every single seat in the United States House of Representatives is up for grabs as well as one-third of of the Senate. In other words, off-year elections determine the whole goddamned immediate future of the nation.
By the way, my usage of the line up for grabs is ill-advised, bordering on delusional. The vast majority of congressbeings are re-elected no matter how venal, craven self-serving or outright deranged they are. That’s because the vast majority of congressional challengers run on the issues. They’re not savvy enough to know the key to winning elections is money. Do you have a campaign war chest overflowing enough to drown the opposition? That’s generally the only issue that counts. Throughout the history of the United States, we’ve gradually inched closer to this dystopia of checkbook legislation, with the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision finally and fully institutionalizing the buying and selling of national political offices.
Anyway, polling places are already open for those early birds like me. I always vote. Many people say they don’t vote because…
- Elections don’t matter
- My little vote doesn’t mean anything in the long run
- Some shadowy groups or individuals or members of one religion or another control everything
- All politicians are corrupt
… so why bother? I’m not going to argue their points, mainly because they’re all so laughably stupid. And I’m not being pollyannish here. If any and all the above arguments for not voting carried any merit, then why do corporations and plutocrats pay out billions of dollars in campaign contributions? Yeah, corporations and plutocrats are overly influential but they need senators and representatives to do their bidding like vampires need human blood. And they know how to spend their dough wisely. The smart move is to buy elections
And, we the voters are dumb enough to believe the ads and social media misinformation bought and paid for by them.
But that’s a topic that’s been hashed, re-hashed, minced, diced, and pureed more times than any of us can tolerate, so I won’t expound on it here.
Our system of government and elections is woefully imperfect. That makes it the most human of enterprises. We’re woefully imperfect. Especially me, but at least I admit it.
Over the next few years Congress (the Senate and the House, inclusive) will tackle things like the environment, energy, military spending, national infrastructure, and perhaps even abortion and voting rights. The three members of Congress who represent me — senators Todd Young and Mike Bruan and Representative Trey Hollingsworth — all are Republicans. Of the three, only Young seems to have his head screwed on straight. I say this even though I’d probably disagree with him if issued a press release tomorrow morning claiming the Earth revolves around the Sun. Braun is a 2020 election denier and Hollingsworth believes not only that corporations are people but, per his voting record, he clearly thinks the only people worth a damn are corporations.
I’d vote for my next door neighbor Tom to replace any of the three — and Tom is so cantankerous he refuses to attend any of our road association meetings. Then again, if you’ve ever been part of a homeowners association, you’ll immediately recognize Tom’s decision as rooted in logic of the highest order.
In any case, I have to vote this year, if only to announce to the world that the likes of Young and Hollingsworth are utterly unacceptable to me. Braun too, of course, but his term has two years to go.
Now, there are 100 United States senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives. The number of senators was established by the US Constitution at two for each state. The number of House members each state claims is determined by the most recent United States Census figures, so it changes from decade to decade.
The House, therefore, seems a fairly representative (you’ll pardon the pun) body. This so long as one party or another hasn’t gerrymandered the bejesus out of its state’s congressional map. Right now, it’s been the Republicans who’ve played Etch-a-Sketch with congressional district borders the last 20 or thirty years. Before that, the Democrats wielded the Wite-Out™. (Two things: 1) yes, that’s the proper spelling of the Bic company product and 2) who in the hell uses Wite-Out™ anymore?)
The framers of the Constitution, who made a whole lot of mistakes both inadvertently and immorally, really made a hell of a bungle in the case of the makeup of the Senate. They forgot to protect women, the aboriginal peoples of this continent, and kidnapped Africans forced into slavery under the umbrella of that sweet-sounding but ultimately misleading “created equal” line. And then they decided that every single state must have two senators. This goes for both California (population 39.35 million) and Wyoming (581,348). California, you see, has better than 67 times more people than live in Wyoming. Yet, in the United States Senate, Wyoming’s two votes equal California’s. Crazy, I tell you.
Take a look at this population density map of the United States:
The vast majority of American citizens live in those tiny red smudges. All that green land is relatively unpopulated. The 13 least populated states (Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North and South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawai’i, West Virginia, and Idaho) altogether have a population of 14.5 million people, which itself is just shy of one-third the number of people who live in California. Yet those states claim 26 United states senators to California’s two.
Did I mention that was crazy?
It is. And imperfect.