The President of the United States is an extremely important and powerful position but the person elected to the presidency is not a king or dictator and he/she can not pass law or retract it without Congressional approval. This year, all 435 House and 33 of the 100 Senate seats open up for re-election and it is imperative that voters don’t forget Congress in 2012.
The United States holds elections every two years and House of Representative members must seek re-election or vacate their seat. Likewise, the President must run for re-election or vacate every four years and U.S. Senators, every six years. During mid-term election years, the Presidency is out of the equation and the mainstream media focus on the House and Senate members up for re-election. In general elections, the mainstream media ignores most of the Legislative Branch races, concentrating mainly on the Executive race.
For conservatives and libertarians there are severe consequences to ignoring the Congressional races in the 2012 general election cycle. In the same way that House Republicans have to bicker with Senate Democrats makes Congress a lame duck session; similarly, if the House and Senate refuse to work with the President, he will become the lame duck.
With the surmounting debt, irresponsible spending, rising foreign tensions, joblessness, and nothing but more stagflation to look forward to, it is extremely important to remember how Congress works and how it has failed Americans.
How The Legislative Branch Works
Anyone can submit a bill to Congress. Once the bill has the support of a Congress member it goes into a committee for discussion. Upon approval by a Congressional Committee in the House, the Speaker of the House decides whether it gets introduced to the House floor for discussion AND whether to allow a vote on it. The same is true in the Senate. The Senate Majority Leader decides which bills can come before the Senate to discuss or vote on. A bill can start in either the House or Senate but unless it passes in both, it will never reach the President’s desk to sign into law or veto.
The members of the House of Representatives have the specific task of controlling the country’s finances. Their job description demands that all funding for Federal government operations must have the approval of the House. The Senate consists of two representatives in each State and their responsibility is to decide how legislation will affect their State and vote accordingly. Both Legislative Branches of the Federal government take an oath to uphold the Constitution and are, morally, bound to deny any bill that falls outside of Constitutional limits.
How The Executive Branch Works
There is no denying the power given to the President of the United States. The Executive Branch has the limited ability to issue executive orders within the bounds of the Constitutional authority given to the office. It can not circumvent established law passed by the Legislative Branch, but it can legally address any issue that is not specifically covered by existing Constitutional or Federal law. The president has the power to either veto a bill from Congress and send it back or he can sign it into law. If it is sent back to Congress and the House and Senate pass it again, the Executive Branch MUST implement the law and, depending on the wording, it has discretion on how to specifically implement the law through the various Federal Departments until its control.
Even more importantly, the President of the United states is the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces, its personnel, and its presence in the world. When a terrorist cells are found, the President makes the call whether to capture or assassinate them; when a country rebels against its government, the President has the Constitutional power to send military troops and equipment to aid them for a limited time without Congressional approval or ignore them; and he can hire or fire U.S. any military personnel for any reason.
In 2009 and 2010, Republicans went ignored by Democrats who controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency. In 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to bring any Republican sponsored bills to the Senate floor, referring to them as “dead on arrival”, yet Speaker of the House John Boehner continues to allow Democrat sponsored bills discussion and vote on the House floor.
For the past 3 years we have heard nothing but how Republican lawmakers are hateful, warmongering, obstructionists who want to put seniors out on the streets, take food from children’s mouths, and heat from people’s homes. They’ve been blamed for rising medical insurance costs, accused of causing the United States credit downgrade by refusing to vote to raise taxes and using the $15 trillion dollar debt as a political ploy against Democrats. What we have seen are 3 years of unfettered Democrat control. Even though Republicans took the House in 2011, President Obama and Congressional Democrats have vilified them and successfully managed to get almost everything they’ve wanted.
Conservatives! Don’t forget Congress this election cycle. Every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election, including Speaker Boehner. There are Senate elections in Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Arizona due to retiring Senators.
As a bonus, the following is a listing of U.S. Senators running for re-election, their party affiliation and how long they’ve held their Senate seat:
- California: Dianne Feinstein – Democrat – 3 terms (18 years)
- Delaware: John Capenter – Democrat – 2 terms (12 years)
- Florida: Bill Nelson – Democrat – 2 terms (12 years)
- Indiana: Richard Lugar – Republican – 6 terms (36 years)
- Maine: Olympia Snowe – Republican – 3 terms (18 years)
- Maryland: Ben Cardin – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- Massachusetts: Scott Brown – Republican – 1/3 of a term (2 years)
- Michigan: Debbie Stabenow – Democrat – 2 terms (12 years)
- Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- Mississippi: Roger Wicker – Republican – 1 term (6 years)
- Missouri: Claire McCaskill – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- Montana: Jon Tester – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- Nevada: Dean Heller – Republican – appointed in 2011 (1 year)
- New Jersey: Bob Menendez – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- New York: Kirsten Gillibrand – Democrat – appointed 2009 (3 years)
- Ohio: Sherrod Brown – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- Pennsylvania: Bob Casey Jr. – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse – Democrat – 1 term (6 years)
- Tennessee: Bob Corker – Republican – 1 term (6 years)
- Utah: Orin Hatch – Republican – 6 terms (36 years)
- Vermont: Bernie Sanders – Independent – 1 term (6 years)
- Washington: Maria Cantwell – Democrat – 2 terms (12 years)
- West Virginia: Joe Manchin – Democrat – 1/3 term (2 years)
- Wyoming: Joe Barrasso – Republican – appointed 2007 (5 years)
Make A Real Difference In 2012
The general elections are 11 months away and not only have the Presidential candidates started their campaigns, most Congressional campaigns are well underway. To make a real difference in 2012, I have a few suggestions for conservative Americans who are truly tired of “business as usual” in Washington D.C.
- Don’t forget Congress and allow the media to distract you. I predict the GOP presidential primaries will last a while as Mitt Romney’s “electability” erodes. Even after the primaries produce a Republican nominee, he must debate President Obama and the mainstream rhetoric machine. Meanwhile, Congressional races will, largely, be ignored until after the 2012 election results.
- Send an email or talk to candidates seeking your support and/or vote and ask them where they stand on issues. Personally, I like to be as vague as possible so I can get a feel of what the candidate supports. For example, I will ask their stance on abortion and if they have changed their view over time and why. This way, I research a candidate and compare their response with their past actions.
- Never vote a straight party-line ticket. Always go through the candidates individually to make sure they are labeled correctly and don’t vote for people or offices you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re only interest is voting for the president, then only vote for the president. There is nothing wrong with leaving the unknown to those in the know and your vote for the presidency is completely valid.
- Term limits tend to make political candidates lazy during their final allowable term in office. This rule holds true with the Executive Office of the Federal government (which is Constitutionally limited to two terms) as well as State government positions with term limits. When you vote for a person seeking a political position with term limits, make sure to consider that they might not be as motivated, once re-elected, because afterwards they are officially retired from the position.
- Resolve to stay in touch with the candidates you voted for AFTER the elections are over. Let them know when you are pleased with their performance as well as when you are displeased. Sometimes complicated issues become clouded by inaccurate reporting so if you don’t understand your representative’s vote or position on an issue, ask for clarification before over-reacting.
No matter who wins the Presidency of the United States in 2012, Congress holds the key to conservative reforms in entitlement programs, solving the national debt problem, passing or repealing legislation, appointing judges, cabinet members, committees, and holding the Executive Branch accountable for properly implementing passed legislation.
So remember, do your homework and don’t forget Congress during this general election. Our future could depend on it.