The case against a “Keep them in check” vote.

VOTE in blue on a red and white striped backgroundThere is a myth that by voting for a President from one party and then voting for other positions from another party that you will somehow “keep them in check.”  This is seat-of-the-pants logic at best when you think you are helping to moderate government. In reality, you are merely helping to keep government in a grid-lock pattern where it is difficult for really important legislation to get passed. Would you bet on a horse but then insist that they use your morbidly obese Uncle Fred as a the Jockey?  Would you load rocks in your rowboat during a flood in order to slow down the speed you might go in the rapids?  How about leaving the anchor on your boat dragging bottom during a strong wind so you can’t blow off course?  The answers are hopefully, “No.”   If you support the platform of a particular candidate, then it also makes sense to vote for Senators and Representatives from the same party in order to allow your President to actually implement their platform.

At one time in our distant history the “keep them in check” logic may have made some sense, such as electing a Democratic controlled Senate and a Republican controlled House or vice versa. This used to help force comprises so that things could get done but in recent years, party stalwarts, the career politicians who have been holding their Senate or House seats through several elections have tried to hold their party together en masse regardless of the issues.  They end up wasting a lot of time in order to make sure nothing happens.  Instead of compromises we have gotten gridlocks.   The old conventional wisdom no longer works because the parties are not behaving like they used to do.  Look at the recent refusal to refill a Supreme Court Justice position for Justice Scalia who passed away February 13, 2016.  This job will have been vacant for a full year before a replacement might be approved since the Republican controlled Senate simply refused to do their job on the gamble that they will have a new President elected who will pick a someone else to fill the spot.  Will they continue to avoid doing their job of advise and consent on an appointee from a Clinton Presidency?   There is no guarantee they will actually approve anybody, because they have not done it so far even though the suggested Judge from the Obama administration was pretty much a middle-of-the-road Justice.   Republicans have nothing to lose by gridlocking the Supreme Court but we, as a nation do.  By their behavior they are stripping an important part of the “Checks and Balances” built into the constitution to keep our democracy running smoothly.  Our forefathers did not imagine that people would run for office, be elected and then refuse to do the job, and if they did, then surely the people would not re-elect them.   If these people were in a business,  they would be fired for not doing the job for which they had been hired.  Unfortunately, it is the American people who suffer through inaction on many important issues of the day.

Today, it makes more sense to give the President a supporting body of Congress to ensure they are able to implement or maintain the policies and promises they voiced during their campaign.  Electing a President from one party and then hamstringing them by allowing both houses to be controlled by the other party is like shooting yourself in the foot.  You simply voted to get nothing done.  We have struggled too long with Republicans who actually shut-down the government and cost taxpayers billions of dollars, who fail to recognize or support the climate-change initiatives that are so desperately needed to help ensure a future for our grandchildren.  Instead of moving forward, their ‘put the wagons in a circle’ mentality has left the U.S. nearly stagnant and stuck in a variety of areas including rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, improving or enhancing medical care alternatives while keeping a lid on costs and allowing our supreme court to deal with all nine justices as intended.   We have been rehashing the same issues over and over for the past 25 years instead of moving forward and progressing in to the 21st Century.   Our forefathers created sufficient checks and balances in our system and did not expect us to try and add additional checks and balances at the ballot box. However, they were short-sighted in thinking elected representatives would actually do their job honestly and to the best of their ability instead of doing whatever their party declares they should do.  If anything, we need to encourage more changes to improve our system of government like legislating an overturn of the citizens united decision that has allowed the ultra-rich to have a much larger impact on the outcome of political races in all areas of the country.  We need to change our tax structure so we stop throwing money at the mega-rich while more and more people slip down the scale into lower middle class or join the ranks of the poor.  If you believe in the platform of the President for whom you vote, then you should also try to give them Senators and Representatives that can actually pass the legislation necessary to implement that platform.

 

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