If you are registered (and shame on you if you are not) or if you have not voted by absentee ballot, the most important mission you have today is to vote. It is the most important vote in your lifetime.
This Congress has done nothing in two years but abdicate its responsibilities as a branch of government co-equal with the executive by rubber-stamping a presidency that has grabbed unconstitutional powers that have left the nation – you and me – without the rights and liberties once guaranteed by the Constitution. It will be decades before those rights are restored.
In every instance, the Congress has gone along with the president’s jabberwocky world in which up is down and fiction is truth until the only question left is what planet do the minority of citizens who still support the president and Congress live on.
No one in Washington has done anything about global warming or about the more than one-sixth of the nation who cannot afford health coverage (and therefore healthcare), while voting billions of dollars for a war against a country that did not attack us thereby piling up a national debt that cannot be repaid until after our grandchildren are in their graves.
These officials, elected to serve the people, don’t even work. They arrive in Washington each week, after raising money for four days in their districts, on Tuesday and leave on Thursday. In between, they block any rational debate on important issues and vote again and again to support whatever the president demands of them.
Their other transgressions are too numerous to mention and no candidate in this campaign has addressed the serious difficulties our country faces. Instead, we have been treated to arguments over which novel – Mrs. Cheney’s or Jim Webb’s – has the raunchier sex scenes.
The strongest signal we as a nation can send Congress that we aren’t going to take it anymore is to vote out every incumbent. They and the newly elected will then be on notice that they have two years to make real progress or we’ll vote them out too. And we will keep doing it until they hear us.
There are those who disagree, who say that the Republicans can then maintain control of Congress. But mark my words, even if the Democrats win enough seats to control Congress, nothing will change. A few will try to impeach the president (does no one who advocates impeachment understand who becomes president if the move is successful?) and hold as many investigations as they can squeeze into their less than three-day work week to ferret out which Republicans did or didn’t do what to screw up the country.
But nothing will come of those investigations. Nothing will change and there are far too many crucial, time-sensitive issues to address to get the United States back on course than to waste time playing the blame game.
Oddly enough it is the Republicans, now running scared as polls show they are likely to lose control of the House and perhaps the Senate, who may gradually be gaining a greater understanding of how angry Americans are. Given a couple of years out of power, they may become more attuned to the needs of the country than Democrats, although I don’t really believe that.
I don’t align myself with either party. Democrats may lean a bit more populist; Republicans more supportive of corporate America, but they are all bought and paid for by obscenely rich multinational corporations who hold allegiance only to profits and not the United States. Until there is real campaign financing reform (right, as if Congress members of any political stripe will ever do anything about that), the only thing the rest of us have to wield is the ballot box.
But that power is useless unless we, whatever our political leanings, work in concert against a Congress that has forsaken the public and dishonored their oaths of office.
However, it may turn out that our biennial election ritual is moot. The president, vice president and Karl Rove have been making eerily confident statements (which feel to me to be more than mere bravado) that the Republicans will maintain control of Congress. And, it has been hard to miss the many news stories on how easily electronic voting machines (which 80 percent of precincts use) can be manipulated.
One of the things about surveys and polls that has always irritated me is how accurate they are the majority of the time. I don’t like to believe we are all so predictable, but only rarely has an election gone counter to the polls.
This year, all the polls (except those secret ones Mr. Rove says show otherwise) predict a Democratic success at least in the House. So, do Messrs. Bush, Cheney and Rove know something about those voting machines that we don’t? Are their frantic appearances supporting Republican candidates throughout the country only for show?
I have no illusions about my advocacy of voting against all incumbents; few voters will follow suit. So if, tomorrow morning, we find that the House does remain in Republican control, it will be hard to convince me that the machines were not manipulated; and I suspect I will not be alone.
The last thing the U.S. needs right now in a country so starkly divided is another contested election as in 2000. That event, plus subsequent mangled voting counts in Ohio and other states, will further erode trust in an election system that is already questioned by millions.
But that is an issue for tomorrow morning. Today, for whomever and whatever you choose on your ballot, please vote. It is the only voice we have.