Before I go on, let me say that this particular blog will be as non-partisan as is humanly possible. Not because I don’t want to influence your vote away from the dark side, but because the arguments and case I am about to state genuinely applies to both sides of any issue. So with out further preamble here we go.
The party of a candidate is much more important than the candidate him self.
“What?” you say. “How can that possibly be? I vote for the candidate who most thinks the way I do. I vote for the person, not the party!”
I have heard this many times. This is political naïveté wrapped up in pseudo intellectualism. I’m sorry, if that hurt. But, party affiliation is the most reliable way to tell which way a politician will vote. Here is why.
Democrats and Republicans alike form their collations in advance. That means that as a group they have already determine which side of an issue they fall on. Those who follow on one side of an issue or another will join either the Republicans or the Democrats. They will then, generally speaking (and I will pick apart the “generally” shortly) vote reliably one way or the other on any given issue.
“Huh?” you say “You lost me”
Abortion. Death Penalty. ObamaCare. Gun Control. Fiscal Policy. Immigration. Labor Unions. Welfare. Taxes. Bigger Government. Personal Responsibility. Environment. Minimum Wage. Border Control. Solar & Wind Energy. Oil. Nuclear. On and on and on.
You pick the issue. The Democrats are on one side. The Republicans are on the other. Then each party will vote to keep happy those who side, and vote for with them. So, as a voter it is your responsibility to determine which of these issues you fall on and which are the most important to you.
Some people are single issue candidates. That means that one thing; Abortion, Gun Rights, Lower Taxes is the one thing that drives them. If your “thing” is Second amendment rights and you vote for a Democrat; you are either an idiot or a low information voter. Either way, just stay home on Election Day and play a video game. In the interest of my non-partisanship, if your thing is Labor Unions, you don’t want to vote for a Republican. They will not be voting your way. Again, pick the issue. Pick your side. Pick your party. That guy is your guy. The other guy is not.
“Objection! Your Honor, the blogger is full of hot air and bluster! I know many politicians whose vote has crossed the party and that is why I vote for the person and not the party! Hummph!”
In the House of Representatives the vast majority of the seats are held and will continue to be held by a person of just one party. There are maybe 100 seats, out of 435 that are “in play”; meaning that either party can get a person elected to them, come November.. While the others are “safe”, meaning one party’s candidate gets elected year after year.
In Colorado, District #1, held by Democratic Diana DeGette, and District #2 held by Jared Polis are safe Democratic seats. There as so many more Democrats registered to vote in those districts (Denver and Boulder) that no Republican has a chance. DeGette has been there for over 20 years, and before her it was Democrat Pat Schroeder. She was in there for around a quarter of century before she retired. The Senate is much the same way. I would have to get an almanac to find the last Republican senator from California. Oklahoma can be counted on to send two Republicans to the US Senate each time they come up for election.
But, for Senators or Representatives whose constituents are more evenly split, they can not just follow the party line. If the bill they vote for or against angers the majority of the people back home, they might not get reelected. So politics come into play.
When a vote comes up the leaders of each party do their calculus, and figure out how many votes they have that will not cause political waves. Once the math is done, they see if they have enough votes to pass or defeat the bill in question. If they do, those representatives or senators that reside in “in play” seats are “allowed” to vote against the party line or their conscience (for those that have one). If not, the party leaders start to make decisions on who needs to vote for the bill and who will be not to.
“Whaaaa?” you say. “Guys like Democrat Harry Reid, who is Senate Majority Leader, or Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, tell them how to vote?”
Yes, naïve voter. That is how it works. It's not as blatant as someone saying "Hey, Joe, vote this way" It will be more like' "Joe, we can really use your support on this" The representative knows that this means to vote the right way or suffer the consequences. Sure you can have mavericks who will vote their conscience or constituent’s will, against the party, but they are few and far between.
The party leadership could deny them a chairmanship on a committee. That is important to the people back home, because power on a committee equals the ability to get goodies, call “pork” for the folks back home. The party could also deny the incumbent funds out of party coffers, for reelection. Or more likely the party would actually fund a different candidate in the next primary, to get a more pliable candidate elected.
But it is not just on certain bills, which voting for the party that best represents you, comes in to play. Voting for a candidate that is not of your party can effect even IF a bill important to you, comes up for a vote.
But, that is going to have to wait until next week.
Pick your issues. Pick a side. Pick a Party. Vote that Party.