As we approach June, the end of the primary season is near. There are two leading candidates whose nominations are in line without any major incidents. The primaries are always different than the general election. The primaries tend to sieve out issues in both parties. These headline issues then morph into the broader fights in the general election. On the Republican side, there is a lot of turbulence because of Donald Trump’s surprising run at the nomination. In some ways, the Republicans have splinter into different groups varying in support of Trump. It has revealed the establishment republicans haven’t been able to come to a consensus about any candidate. In the process, they have made room for a candidate like Trump. In an exact opposite reality, the Democrat’s have found their candidate in Hillary Clinton. Clinton has successfully talk down her baggage as Secretary of State. The Democratic establishment is firmly behind her despite the resurgent and popular Bernie Sanders.
(Pictured Above:By Abraham Lincoln, digital reproduction by George Chriss (GChriss). With prior publication, the Emancipation Proclamation, the most famous Executive Order became effective 1-January-1863. – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1627541)
This is post is more of an introduction to general elections. I have in previous posts written about different aspects of general elections, like the Electoral College. I enjoy minute details of elections because its an interesting statistical study of the American voter population. The way that different people vote of different socioeconomic background, origins and biological sex. There is even regional bias that show up in the voter data. The voter base has changed dramatically since beginning of America. George Washington was elected strictly by white, landowning, men. A war hero like Washington is actually an common feature among Presidents especially before the 20th century. (1900) Over the years, the voting process has changed dramatically. After the civil war, free blacks were allowed to vote, however, Jim Crow laws in the South prevent many from actually doing so. Then in 1919, women’s suffrage was achieved throughout the US. This dramatically changed the way that Americans voted. The 1920s and beyond saw women gain a voice in politics and in the workforce.
Forty some years later, Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Voting rights act which made Jim Crow laws illegal. Unfortunately, some of the Southern state courts have rejected parts of this act. Voter suppression is a real problem among black and minority voters in the south. The most common form is now through voter id. Recently, I believe in Alabama, they closed all but 4 DMV offices so that voters could not easily get IDs. This type of voter suppression and the change in population by ethnic origin creates an ever changing statistical analysis of the American people. For example, the increase of Hispanics via immigration has created a large Latino bloc of voters. This changes the dynamic of who becomes president.
In my title, I refer to the general election as the political Superbowl. The general election certainly holds the most gravity in the American political sphere. Not only does the leader of the Free World get elected, so does most of congress. I have often stressed that voting is so important as a civic duty. Part of the reason is that congress seats are just as important as the presidency if not more so! The general election may be the Superbowl because of the presidential candidates, but the playoffs would be the congressional elections. These state wide elections hold greater consequences for the American people than the president.
Let me explain why the Presidential election is overrated and why you should be concerned who your state’s senator or house of representatives are. Its actually an simple explanation because if you know how our government operates then you can see it. As you probably know, the legislative branch writes and passes the laws. The executive branch executes them and makes sure they are being imposed in every state. The Supreme Court makes sure the laws are followed correctly and thanks to Alex Hamilton and John Marshall are constitution visa via Judicial Review. The legislative branch or Congress makes everything that government does, happen. They approve the budgets, increase and decrease taxes, declare wars, confirm appointments and etc etc. The President’s job has expanded but it remains simply to sign laws, veto laws, push for new laws, and be the Commander and Chief.
So if you are worried that Hillary or Trump might be the worst President ever just remember that their presidential fortunes are tied to the ambitions of Congress. Now if you follow politics closely there has been some outrage about executive orders. I can’t say that I blame Obama because house republicans tend to block everything. However, executive orders are not like martial law or above the constitution. Executive orders can be challenged by the Supreme Court. You can rest easy knowing that no President has unlimited power. Checks and balances are a wonderful thing. Each branch of government can be checked by another. Now I realize that Trump and Clinton don’t strike many people as favorable candidates.
You can also bet that Congress will be the opposite party of the elected Presidential candidate. Its almost inevitable that if Hillary Clinton is elected that she will deal with an Republican controlled senate and house of representatives. The same is true for Trump, he will deal with a Democratic senate and house of representatives. In rare cases of overwhelming sentiment there has been a same party President and Congress. More importantly, my point is that Congress controls what laws are made and passed. So unless your like me and your voting for Gary Johnson, then remember to focus on those congresspeople.
Despite who you vote for, just remember that Congress has the power. They are the engine that makes our government go. The President is just an enforcer and voice for foreign relations. So my point is that the general election has the hype of a Superbowl because of the Presidential election but the Congressional elections are the playoffs that really count in the clutch. I want to quickly go back to foreign relations, I have not written a whole ton of foreign relations posts because usually its a general election issue. I have a quite in depth knowledge of international relations. In the future, I will definitely be looking at foreign relations and how the candidates should act as President. The wildcard will be Trump because we have not seen him in such a role. At least with Hillary her stint as Secretary of State can clue us into what her foreign relations might look like.
Stay tuned for more foreign relations and election analysis. Thanks for reading!