As presidential race nears end, importance of congressional election heightens

By Nick Riebel || Staff Writer

The point of this article is not to discuss Trump. His pitiful, awful, and (fortunately) incompetent campaign have already been defeated, in large part (in fact, I would argue, mostly) due to Trump’s own mistakes. I wish to argue for the importance of electing a Democratic Congress, and most preferably a liberal and progressive one. Even if Secretary Clinton wins, I do not put any confidence that she or her administration will do the right things for America. Even if she does, I suspect she will do things such as enforcing civil rights or gun control, not because she particularly wants to, but because a progressive issue also happens to be politically popular. Rather, it is up to the people to keep her accountable. And, in large part, Congress must (and should) be responsible for this.

Some argue that, given the overwhelming likelihood of a Clinton presidency, that Congress should rather be held by the GOP. Indeed, some Republicans seem to be making this appeal explicit, arguing that if they are re-elected, they will be a check on whoever becomes president. Indeed, the National Republican Congressional Committee “is running an ad praising Representative Bob Dold for having bucked Donald Trump” (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/441506/nrcc-praises-bob-dold-having-stood-donald-trump). Yet, the Republicans’ record shows us that they cannot be trusted. Merrick Garland is still waiting for his confirmation hearing. And the Senate Republicans’ obstruction and laziness (not to mention cowardice) is trending towards un-Constitutionality. For example, it had even been suggested that, should Hillary Clinton be elected president, that they may allow for the Supreme Court to “die out, literally” rather than let her appoint new justices (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/supreme-court-hillary-clinton-nominees_us_580fed9ae4b08582f88cb00c). And, if history is any indicator, as Republicans in the Senate have not yet faced and major repercussions for refusing to even give Merrick Garland a fair hearing, why wouldn’t they refuse to give hearings to any Clinton appointees, if they see clear partisan advantages in doing so?

And the Republicans in the House, where the Tea Party now has a very, very strong influence, would hardly be better. In fact, it is even rumored that Trump supporters and conservative purists in the party are plotting a coup against Speaker Paul Ryan as soon as by the end of the year: (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/10/25/tea-party-tied-group-calls-for-delay-in-speaker-vote-as-ryan-faces-unrest.html). As the House Republicans become more extreme, and as they potentially overthrow Paul Ryan as they did John Boehner, why should they be trusted, as dysfunctional as they are, to be entrusted again with control over that part of Congress?

We need a Democratic Congress, that can get progressive priorities, which are American priorities, through Congress. Republicans will not act on civil rights, gun control, Wall Street reform, infrastructure improvements, education and health care reform, as so many other critically important issues. They have obstructed them for many years. Democrats should, no, they must, retake Congress, and they ought to fight as hard as they can, not just the “easy” political battles, but the difficult ones, such as the one President Obama bravely pushed on Obamacare, which (while not perfect) seems to be improving with time. Even if we only make some initial progress, it will be better than making none at all (or with a Trump presidency) see it dramatically and drastically (and perhaps permanently) reversed.

While Trump throws a prolonged public temper tantrum, let’s not let his followers and enablers in Congress slide under the radar. Vote these corrupt and worse-than-useless conservatives out, and replace them with patriotic progressives!

Senior Nick Riebel is a staff writer. His email is nriebel@fandm.edu.

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