Every other November, we go to the polls and we vote. We vote for people to represent us in both state and federal legislatures. We vote for the person whose values we believe to be most nearly aligned with our own. We vote for the person who we believe will make the best decisions for the people in this nation … all 330 million of them, not just the white ones, not just the Christian ones, not just the straight ones … ALL of them.
I am fortunate, for my local polling place is within walking distance if I so choose, but many people must juggle work and family to travel long distances, often using public transportation, in order to vote. Many decide it’s not worth the effort, but those who do make the effort deserve high fives. And they deserve to have their votes counted fairly, to have their voices heard.
We, collectively, vote for 100 senators, two from each of the 50 states. We, the taxpayers, pay the salaries of these 100 senators, an annual total of $17,438,800, but in addition we pay for their travel, many of their meals, and other expenses related to serving in the Senate. We pay for their medical care. And I don’t suppose any of us would begrudge the senators their $174,000 salary plus perks … if they did their job.
As it happens … for all the effort we go to in electing them, and for all the money we spend to support them … we in fact have only one senator at this time. Oh sure, your state has two people you elected, and they go sit in the Capitol most days, sometimes maybe they even come back to their home states and sit in their offices and talk to the media or an occasional constituent. But … they are senators in name only. They are collecting their salary, traveling on our dime, and not doing a damn thing to earn any of it, for they have ceded their roles in the senate to one, single senator … and a lousy one at that … Senate Majority Leader Addison Mitchell McConnell, aka Moscow Mitch.
I did not vote for Mitch McConnell, and unless you live in Kentucky, neither did you, and yet our very lives rest in his soiled hands. Last time McConnell was re-elected, he received 213,753 votes, or less than 6/1000 of the total of the population of the United States. We did not choose him and he does not represent us! And yet, in his own words …
“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate.”
Those “this” things he won’t be having on the floor of the Senate have thus far included bills to reopen the government when Trump shut it down over his hideous ‘wall’, bills to fix partisan and discriminatory gerrymandering, bills to protect the Mueller investigation, bills to remove big money from elections, bills on universal background checks, bills to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, environmental bills, and much more. In fact, the Senate has only managed to pass 34 bills all year thus far, for such things as: changing the name of a federal building in Utah; providing an honourary title to a member of the military; clarifying the grade and pay of podiatrists of the Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.
Meanwhile … McConnell is adamantly refusing to schedule ANY election security bills, many of which have bi-partisan support and have already been passed by the House of Representatives. Foot doctors are more important to the U.S. Senate than our rights to a fair and honest election!
Now … the thing that many people don’t realize is that the Majority Leader’s ability to control what the Senate will consider to such an unconscionable degree is not … I repeat not … a written rule, but rather a long-standing precedent. Put simply, party leaders are powerful because rank-and-file senators defer to them to manage the institution how they see fit. This deference is not mandated by the Senate’s official rules. Rather, it is simply grounded in its past practice. Of the forty-four Standing Rules for the Senate, only ten even mention the majority and minority leaders. And those ten rules do not grant the leaders any real power vis-à-vis the rank-and-file. Under the rules, all senators are essentially equal. That is, no senator is more powerful than another.
The question, then, is why aren’t the senators that were elected by We the People doing their job? Why are they content to allow Mitch McConnell to single-handedly declare that it’s okay if Vladimir Putin uses his money and technology to rig the election next year? What hold does Mitch have over them? Have they forgotten that oath they took when they were sworn into office? Have they forgotten to whom they owe their very jobs? Or maybe the real question is … to whom are they beholden, of whom are they afraid?
Any senator can put a bill on the schedule to be discussed, not only Addison McConnell. Listen up, Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown … get off your lazy asses and put election security at the front and center of your priority list or answer to your constituents.
I know you are all tired of hearing me say, “write a letter”, “make a phone call”, but this is just too important … what’s at stake here is the future of this nation, for if we cannot have a free and fair election in 2020, my best guess is that we aren’t likely to ever see another in our lifetime. Take another look at the Reagan quote at the top of this post. Please take a few minutes to either write or call both senators, republican and democrat alike, and let them know in no uncertain terms that you demand they stand up to McConnell. And then, write a letter to the editor of your local paper and let your community know that your senators are being well paid for sitting on their fat patooties thinking about foot doctors instead of fair elections! Please … do it for all of us, for your kids, grandkids, puppies … do it for all the people who have fought throughout the history of this nation to give us the right to be heard.