Sunday, December 09, 2007

VOTE 60 : Your only Vote that matters

The 2008 elections will be for President, 33 Senate seats and all House seats but your vote that will contribute to America's future is the election for US Senate.

Oh sure, you can vote for President, but the President is actually elected by the Electoral College. Historically, most states will overwhelmingly select one candidate leaving only a few states to determine the outcome.
Florida (with its butterfly ballot in 2000) and Ohio (with its allegations of voter suppression and disenfranchisement in 2004) may play an important part in 2008.
Some speculate that the tri-state grouping of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin could be important in 2008, but I have no doubt that your vote - or my vote - will not determine the outcome.

Through the practice of gerrymandering to maintain favorable districts, the House of Representatives generally allows incumbents to be reelected 90 % of the time. When districts are won by 20 % or more, you know there is a problem. Look at the 2002 election where all the incumbents were re-elected with the minimum margin win by 19 % and (actually one Congressman won 72 to 27 %). Now, the 2006 elections did produce one incumbent losing (52-47%) but the other incumbents were reelected comfortably (the closest race was by 16%). In 2008, MN-01, MN-02, MN-03(retiring) and MN-05 will be contested, but otherwise, don’t expect a close call.

Should you care ? Of course, but temper that with the knowledge that party discipline is critical in the House to move any agenda. Historically, one party has had a dominant majority … currently the Democrats have a 33 seat advantage.

That might make one think that the Democrat agenda would be quickly enacted.

Not so.

The Senate operates under different rules. Under Senate Rule 22, the Senate does not have to act on any legislation unless 60 senators want to proceed with a vote.

Hence VOTE 60.

This year, voters need to weigh carefully if they wish to vote for more of the same Do-Nothing Senate or vote for progress on a variety of issues … ranging from immigration to war funding … from confirmation of judicial nominees to White House appointees.

In some ways, the 60 vote filibuster / cloture procedure allows a Senator to “hid” behind the cloture vote. It should not be surprised that a number of Republican Senators (notably, Coleman, Collins and Smith) who are up for re-election are siding with the Democrats to allow votes to move forward … knowing that it will take nine Republicans to bolt provides cover to tell the voters that you wanted to vote on it, but it was filibustered.

The 2008 Senate elections will determine domestic policy as much whomever is elected President.
The Republicans have 21 seats to defend while the Democrats have 12.
With six Republican Senators already announcing that they will not be in the 111th Congress when it convenes in January 2009, the make-up could definitely change.
If you reside in Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, and of course, Minnesota, your vote in the Senate election will determine what happens for the next six years.
Weigh your choices carefully.
You're not voting for a candidate ... you're voting whether your want progress to resolve issues, or more of the same.

FYI – The VOTE 60 in the title of this commentary refers to my effort to promote the importance of the US Senate races in 2008. VOTE 60 will be the headline of future Senate-related commentaries.

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