I left you with a cliffhanger. I said that
“Voting for a candidate that is not of your party can effect even IF a bill, important to you, comes up for a vote.”
Yes, that is true. It happens in two ways, both of which are dictated by who controls that particular chamber of Congress.
First thing you should know is that at the end of an election, both the House and the Senate count noses to see who rules the roost. If there are more Democrats than Republicans, then each committee will be controlled by the party with the most noses. Why does that matter? Because all bills start in a committee, to see if they are “worthy” of being voted on by the whole chamber.
In the Senate, which currently has more Democrats than Republicans, every single committee has more Democrats than Republicans. In the House, which has more Republicans than Democrats, every single committee is dominated by the Republicans. It is very easy to just let a bill “die in committee”. If a bill is not voted on before a session of Congress ends, that bill dies. It does not just wait until the next session. So, if the chairman of a committee doesn’t like it, maybe it gets put on the bottom of the pile and time runs out. Or the committee votes on it, and majority kills it then and there.
The second way is on the floor of each chamber. Once a bill gets through committee, the elected representatives vote on it, right? Maybe. Sometimes. Usually. Not Always.
“Why, smarty-pants” you smugly begin “If the party dictates the vote of each of their members and they are in power in that chamber, would the other side have enough votes to pass a bill the party in power did not like?”
Let’s look at a real world example of that very thing; the Keystone Pipeline. One poll shows that about two thirds of Americans are in favor of this. That means that most Senators and Representatives should be voting for this; if they followed their constituents will. So, if this were to come up for a vote, most Senators and most Representatives should vote for it and it would pass. The safe seats would vote for the party line, the “in play” seats would vote the way the majority of the people back home would like, and it would pass. That is what happened in the Republican controlled House of Representatives. The Republican’s want this to pass, so it came up for a vote, and it passed. On to the Senate.
Because the Democrats are the majority in the Senate; they control which bills come up for a vote. The Keystone Pipeline has not, and will not come up for a vote in the Senate as long as there are more Democrats than Republicans.
Why? Because this is an election year and the Keystone pipeline is a high profile issue. There are several Senators; Democrat, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, for one, who are in close reelection races, AND whose constituents really want the Keystone bill passed. If she votes for it, she probably loses the election. If she doesn’t vote for it, one part of the Democrat coalition is upset with her, and maybe they don’t vote for her, too.
Making this whole thing very difficult is that control of the Senate is in play this year. The Republicans need to recapture six Senate seats. If that happens, Harry Reid no longer calls the shots. He does not want that to happen. So what does he do? Nothing.
If the Keystone bill is not called up for a vote, Mary Landrieu does not have to choose between voting for it, and damaging her party, but strengthening her case back home with the voters, or voting against it, and greatly damaging her chances for reelection (and also damaging the party).
That is how the game is played, both in Washington and at home in your own State legislature. So voting for a person you think is closest to your views is pointless. He or she will be controlled, to very large part, by the leaders of their party. If they don’t tow the line, the party will find someone else.
Two more examples of the party dictating the vote;
ObamaCare passed strictly on party lines. Not a single Republican voted for it. The Democrats needed every single vote they could muster. One of those was Betsy Markey, newly elected Democrat, from Colorado’s 4th district. Polling showed that her constituents were mostly against passage of ObamaCare. So voting for it would anger the folks in her district and risk her being not getting reelected. But, the party was adamant. We need your vote. This is important to the party and you will vote for it. She did. She was defeated in the next election.
Joel Hefley, Republican from the “safe” Colorado District #4 (now the 5th), was strong armed by the party to vote for the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug bill in 2002. This was President Bush’s pet project, but it was not universally loved by Republicans in general. Hefley’s constituents were mostly against it. But, Bush needed every Republican vote, and Hefley was also a committee chair (Ethics), so his leadership was important to the bills passage. The party gets (both sides) what the party wants, and even though the bill was not popular with voters back home, Hefley voted it for it. It, like ObamaCare passed.
You may not like the way this works. I don’t. But, you also have no say in it.
No, I take that back. You do have a say in it. Now that you know the rules of the game, play by them.
Pick the Issue. Pick your side. Pick the Party. Vote your Party.
With one exception; third party candidates. We will talk about them next time.