Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor party (DFL) called me earlier this week. I was asked if I was voting for Dave-something and some other guy for seats in the House and Senate respectively. I said I don’t know because I never heard of these dudes. For all the talk about Trump getting us engaged in this year’s election, a lot of people still don’t know shit about their state representatives out in Washington.
The celebrity nature of the presidential race is enough to distract me and most other Americans from the fact that the Congressional races are probably more important in the immediate future than who gets to live in the White House. The fact that I had (have…) absolutely no idea who is running to represent me in D.C. was funny and alarming. Most people are just as clueless. Damn…
Here’s some stuff to think about regarding Congress before the election:
- 88 percent of Congress seats are up for vote this year: Every single seat in the House of Representatives (435) and 34 out of 100 Senate seats.
- Republicans had a significant majority in both the House and Senate the past several years, with 247 House seats and 54 Senate seats after the 2014 Congressional elections. This is subject to serious change pending the results of this year’s election.
- Most people under the age of 30 can’t name who their state’s senator is. It’s a good thing we know Hillary Clinton’s entire résumé, but let’s learn a thing or two about the lawmakers from our own areas directly representing us.
Between campaigns for both the House and Senate, more money is being spent on campaigns for seats in Congress than the two presidential campaigns. Roughly $630 million is being spent on Senate races by the Democratic and Republican parties combined, and about $900 million on House races. Republicans are outspending Democrats by about $100 million in House representative campaigns, and $60 million on Senate campaigns. Having a majority in both House and Senate is a huge deal, and the Republican party won’t give it up easily.
Changing a system requires learning a system. If we aren’t even aware of who our highest-level representatives are, how can we complain about American politics and be taken seriously? People need to get more invested in this aspect of election year. Voting Clinton or Trump will not assure any of the solutions you think will come as a result of their victories.
At the very least, Google who your current state Senator is. Then take a look to see if that seat is up for reelection, as well as who is running for House rep in your state. Individuals have more power in this two-party system than they think.