December 09, 2005

The Loyal Opposition?

Does it matter that 84 Republican seats in the House of Representatives are unopposed by the Democrats? At a time when the incumbent Republicans are wreaking havoc with the American family's financial future, further widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots, cutting benefits for the most needy in America, threatening our basic freedoms with an unpatriotic act, giving huge tax breaks to corporations and the rich, underfunding education, and standing by as more Americans lose their pensions and health care, is it acceptable that the Democratic Party can't find anyone to oppose these 84 incumbents? What is it? They are doing such a great job? And let's not even mention what the Republicans have done with American foreign policy.

84 seats unopposed! How is that possible? That's about 40% of the total incumbent Republican seats in the House of Representatives. I simply don't get it.

3 comments:

Hume's Ghost said...

Ok, I've got to get around to reading Karp's Indispensable Enemies

Stephen Charles said...

Without examining each individual seat that is unopposed, I can imagine that the problem is gerrymandering, not lazyness on the part of the Democratic Party.
There are only a very precious few competitive seats every two years when the Congressmen run for reelection in the House. This is because almost all of the districts have been drawn so that they are composed of 90% Republicans, or 90% Democrats. This is a huge problem in our political system.

Not only does this make it useless to run an opposing candidate because it would be a complete waste of time, energy and money, but it allows more extreme candidates from both parties to be elected. For example, if a district is 50% liberal and 50% conservative, then a candidate who takes as moderate approach as possible will likely win the election. However, if the district is 90% one ideology, then the "middle" is far more extreme. This creates, among other things, polarization in our Congress.

Stephen McArthur said...

You make a very good point about gerrymandering.

But a Democratic Party that is like the one I wish for would put some effort into explaining this national disgrace called gerrymandering to the American people and campaign against it. At the very least, I would like to see token campaigns in these districts opposing the incumbents on a few select issues.

I do know what it takes to run a Congressional campaign, but it doesn't take alot to be really noisy and draw attention to some of the more pressing issues of the day. And at the very least, if you are the only candidate running against the incumbent from the left, the local press will give you some semblance of a platform, if for no other reason than to sell some papers and ads, and stir up some controversy.

In any event, I just hate to see the Democratic Party roll over and surrender the public square like this in so many Congressional districts.