Most of the oxygen in the press room has been sucked up by the presidential race thus far this cycle. That is with good reason. It is the big prize. Also one of the nominees is colorful, zany and makes for great ratings. There are a plethora of other very important contests. Just sticking to the federal level every seat in the House of Representatives is up for reelection and there is a United States Senate race in 33 states.
Currently the Democrats control the White House and the Republicans control both chambers of Congress. This situation, coupled with the racism of a significant contingent of the Republicans has led to record gridlock via Congressional obstruction. Few things illustrate this more clearly than the Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. They are simply flat out refusing to do their job and incongruously their “fiscally and politically conservative” base is supporting the action.
Now for a quick civics lesson: when there is a Supreme Court vacancy the President nominates a candidate to fill the seat and the Senate reviews the nomination then either confirms or rejects it. While filibusters are allowed in the case of Supreme Court nominees whoever holds the majority in the Senate controls the committees, sets the agenda and has a huge advantage.
In the likely event that Hillary Clinton wins it sets up an interesting situation and the possibility that Garland could be confirmed during the lame duck session. (There are too many other possibilities to cover in this writing. Perhaps that will be the topic for another day.) If Clinton has a majority in the Senate the dynamic is very different than if she does not. Do not lose sight of the fact that this ninth justice will sway the Court to either the liberal or what passes for the conservative side these days.
Largely due to gerrymandering I do not think the Democrats have a chance to take back the House this cycle. In the case of the Supreme Court that is irrelevant. The Senate is a very different story. While some are recently conceding the Senate to the GOP I am not among them. The battle for the Senate will be the story of the last thirty days of the campaign (whether it gets a lot of press or not) and I expect to do more articles about it.
If Clinton wins the presidency (and I’m still expecting an Electoral College landslide) and the Democrats do not control either chamber of Congress she will be met with much of the same obstruction Obama was. Remember the extreme right of the GOP base whether you call them Tea Party or alt-right is almost as misogynistic as it is racist.
For well over a year I have consistently held that 2016 will be a turnout election. While that is certainly true of the presidential race it is even truer in down ballot races very much including U.S. Senate races. This is not a year to sit it out and let the other guy vote. It is not a year to say Hillary has my state so why bother. The American President is incredibly powerful but if the Constitution is adhered to they are not operating without constraints. If you care about America get to the polls and help Hillary help us. Oh, then there is the matter of many state and local races that impact your life greatly.
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