Why I Don’t Give a Shit About the Midterms

It’s true. This political junkie doesn’t give a shit about the midterm elections. But it’s not apathy or a disinterest in our democracy driving this attitude. Let me explain. No, that would take too long. Let me summarize.

As it stands right now, the midterm elections are completely meaningless. Actually, that’s too broad a statement. Elections at the local and state level, especially where it comes to the various high-stakes Governor’s races across the country, are very important. With the gridlock that has largely paralyzed D.C. since the 2010 midterms, much of the legislation impacting the lives of everyday Americans is happening in statehouses throughout the country.

From access to women’s health, voting rights, public sector unions, the minimum wage, and fights over education standards and funding, Governors and their legislatures have been making seismic shifts in how we live, work, and vote. New blood at the state level are our best bet for making real and lasting changes.

Which is far more than can be said for the national races.

Here’s the thing. Since the GOP takeover of the House in the 2010 midterms, our legislative branch has been, and this is not an exaggeration, a failure of historic proportions. Due almost entirely to inflexible, unthinking obstructionism designed to sabotage the President politically, the 112th Congress was the least productive in the entire two-plus century history of our country. And barring a miracle in the next ten weeks, the 113th is on pace to be worse still.

But instead of stopping progress from being made, the obstructionists have simply created the circumstances driving their own irrelevancy.  When Congress does nothing, almost literally nothing, pressure builds and the other two branches are forced to take up the slack. Which is why the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch have been leading the way on important issues like same sex marriage and healthcare reform, with or without input from the legislature.

By refusing to compromise and reach across the isle, the House has taken itself, and the Legislative Branch as a whole, out of the conversation. And while there is a good chance the GOP will also grab control of the Senate this time around, it won’t change the fundamental dynamics of the power struggle that has been playing out over the last four years. Even with a slim majority in the Senate, the GOP won’t have anything close to the necessary two-thirds majority to override a Presidential veto. So they’ll be left doing the same thing they’ve been doing, like making fifty symbolic and meaningless votes to repeal the ACA even while the program continues to exceed all expectations. Two more years of complete and utter inaction is the only thing we can expect starting on January 3rd, 2015, no matter who wins the national races.

Absent the ability, leadership, and willingness to compromise, the legislature has become a vestigial organ whose purpose and usefulness is fading into memory. So no, I don’t give a shit about the midterms. Wake me in 2016.

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