Can politicians be trusted to represent your views if you choose to break party lines to elect them?
” I don’t care about the party, I’m voting for the most qualified candidate.”
That was something you used to hear all the time when election day came around. Voters took the time to get to know the politicians and their platforms and made their decisions based on what was most like their own positions and platforms, regardless of party.
Or at least that’s what they claimed they did. In truth, party lines have defined most elections for quite some time now, especially on the national stage. Even those who don’t regularly participate in political discussions can usually point to a state and tell you whether its next election cycle will break to Red or Blue.
So much so, that even presidential candidates often write off certain states as unwinnable, or conversely, in the bag. The latter assumption seemed to have cost Secretary Clinton in 2016. The other states are known as the “battleground states,” and that is where the bulk of the money from the national parties is sent.
That creates a bit of a problem, when one of the “given” states has a controversy around its candidate, such as the Roy Moore case in Alabama last year. Moore was a deeply flawed Republican candidate in a strongly held Republican state. Even President Trump’s influence couldn’t pull Moore across the finish line, and Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat, won the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions in a special election. Jones is unlikely to be re-elected when his current term expires, and normalcy will probably return.
A lot of money from outside the state of Alabama poured into the Jones’ campaign, as well as a bunch from Republican supporters for the Moore campaign. Ultimately, the Alabama voters made the decision, but how much of their opinion was influenced by negative ads from both sides during the run-up to election day, and all the national dollars spent in the state?
But, the real problem today is the country is so divided between left and right, it has become a vote for party instead of the representative. Candidates regularly pledge to vote with their conscience to represent those who elected them, only to toe the party line once in office.
For some voters, the party that doesn’t necessarily align with the voter’s beliefs will present a very attractive candidate, who says all the right things, promises to uphold the wishes of the voters, and causes the voter to consider giving them their support at the polls.
With the perilous balance in the Senate and House of Representatives, flipping one Red state to Blue, or vice versa, could tip the scales in another direction. The voter has to take that into account when making their decision. If the voter wants the current majority to continue its course, do they dare take a chance on a representative from the other party?
If your senator or congressman betrays your trust, and becomes a solid party vote on nearly all issues even if they don’t align with most of the voters in your state or locality, have you done the wrong thing?
Unfortunately, these are the questions facing all too many voters in the upcoming mid-term elections. Our elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, have shown us over and over again they value party over principle, power over country, and politics over representing their constituents.
It used to be so simple; just vote for the best candidate for the job. In today’s politics, it’s a lot more complicated.