Personal suggestion: Know all of the candidates who are on your ballot for the November 4 election, and what they stand for, then vote your choices. For Minnesotans, the Minnesota election weblink is here. I would suspect that each state’s Secretary of State has a similar page.
Yesterday afternoon I noted a man wearing one of those Minnesota “I Voted” decals. Two women at a neighboring table asked him about it, and he said he had, like many Minnesotans already, voted early. The process is easy and convenient and beats standing in line on Election Day.
An hour or two earlier I received an unanticipated phone call from a friend, lifelong Kansan, who we’d last seen eight years ago, travelling through her town just off I-35.
Yesterday, we had a lot of catching up to do, including the state of politics in Kansas. People who follow politics even a little know what’s going on in Kansas. Right wing Governor Sam Brownback and long-time very conservative Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts are apparently both in very serious trouble, electorally, and may lose their jobs. Time will tell. Whether they win or lose on Nov. 4, things are not happy in Kansas.
But my friend said that even if these two powerful politicians lost, it may not resolve the very serious in-state problems: right-wing conservatives control the state legislature to an extent that if the present configuration continues legislation they pass will be veto proof, even if the Governor changes. And there seems no ground swell in the electorate sufficient to change membership of the legislature enough to bring some balance to the political discourse, even though the status quo is not working well, even for many of the proponents of right wing dominance in government.
There are plenty of Democrats in Kansas. There apparently just aren’t enough of them to bring any balance to the political conversation, and even many normal conservatives are apparently upset with the status quo.
Welcome to American politics.
Four weeks from now Americans will decide in every state and in every community who will represent them for the next two years.
Political decision making is a bit like the weather: unpredictable. Maybe there’ll be sunshine today, or your house will be destroyed in a tornado, or flood. The difference is, of course, in American politics, people can make the decision.
They will make their choices freely, and if recent past tradition continues, there will be gridlock and a government so ineffective that the vast majority of Americans say thumbs down to the Congress. President Obama’s rating, while poor, is atmospheric compared to the U.S. Congress. Still, we may choose more gridlock, than collectively demanding cooperation in making policy to the benefit of all.
In my own state, and many others, many people have already voted (in the restaurant scene described above, the man didn’t inkle, and the ladies didn’t ask, for whom he voted). He did encourage them to vote, however.
Everyone should help the candidate(s) of their choice, and let others they know their preferred choices.
Of course, we have a secret ballot, but we don’t have to keep our choices a secret.
And if you don’t know about “x” candidate, and can’t find out, ask someone you trust for their opinion.
Personal opinion: The “American people” will make a big collective decision on November 4. There is a huge difference between the contemporary very radical Republican Party philosophy (obstruct everything the opposition wants, unite in opposition to anything proposed by President Obama, with an end to ultimately gain complete control of government); and the Democrat (which is really quite akin to the old school progressive Republican sense of government).
Lest we forget there was a time, recently, when one party controlled the House, Senate and White House. It was the Republican era of 2001-2007. It was the time including 9-11-01, approaching economic collapse due to utter failure of responsible economic policy, and the Iraq War and Afghanistan. Congress 1977-2011001.
We are still paying a heavy price for those years which featured heavy spending, particularly on war, and big tax cuts.
If we wake up on November 5, 2014, with a Republican Senate, and an even more Republican House of Representatives (President Obama is President for two more years), we condemn ourselves to moving towards what Kansas is putting itself through now, but the consequences will carry on, even if a Republican is elected as President in 2016.
In such an event – one party controlling the government – what is to stop the minority party from simply following the contemporary Republican example of deliberate obstruction?
At this space, five years ago, I deliberately labeled myself “a moderate pragmatic Democrat”. I spoke and speak as a person who liked Ike (Eisenhower was President in my high school and college years); a person whose most significant political mentor (and great personal friend) was Elmer L. Andersen, progressive Republican Governor of Minnesota; and so on. The contemporary Republican party has thrown out its moderates, opting for a hard-edged take-no-prisoners approach to control.
Kansas is, apparently, learning a harsh lesson in what it means to embrace radical government, where a single “wing” is in control. As a single winged bird cannot fly, neither can a single wing (in ideology) government function in a diverse society such as ours. We thrive in diversity; but we seem to roll the dice every election cycle as to what we’ll get.
We have the right to vote November 4, and it behooves all of us to not only exercise that right, but to exercise it thoughtfully and carefully.