This Weekend I lamented the fact that about three quarters of the races to choose the members of the next (117th) Congress are already effectively determined a year before the election. The names may change, a little, but mostly we know which party is going to represent each district and that mostly it will be the incumbent..
This leads me to two reactions. The first is, maybe my non-political, “why bother,” friends have had it right all along. Why bother seems a reasonable response to a system in which the content of a politician’s message has almost no bearing on whether or not they win. The other is, if you were looking for an explanation of “how we got here,” this would do very nicely. If 75 percent of the races are already determined (and a much larger percentage than that are already “likely” to go with a given party,) then where is the incentive to do anything other than polish up that D or R on your lapel? Why run the risk of actually proposing anything?
But what if it wasn’t this way? Imagine a world in which we decide which candidate to vote for based on what they actually say. Perhaps instead of which attack ad is more successful or which party spends more money on them we might decide to vote for someone because they are proposing a specific solution to something we would like to see addressed and a believable story about how they are going to get other people to go along with it. Maybe in this alternative world we would look through a collection of stories about what candidates propose and choose those we think are most likely to be successful, kind of like we, umm, hire anybody else.
I think we can build this world together. It isn’t going to happen overnight but it can happen in time to make a difference in next year’s elections. Here’s what we all need to do…in 30 minutes or less, once per week. Let’s find and share News We Can Use.
A couple of other things as I wrap up on a Monday afternoon. You may have noticed that it’s been a few weeks since I last published an episode of 435 Voices. If the podcast has been interesting to you, and I hope it has, never fear – it will be back and better than ever looking at a whole new set of districts the first week of December. In full transparency, finding guests has been very time consuming and I am hopeful that the News We Can Use activity outlined in the previous paragraph will help all of you help me become faster at finding the journalists I should be following up with in your district.
To that end, please help spread the word on 435 Voices and Project to Find America. I restarted this journey more than four months ago and have talked with a lot of people about what I’m trying to do here. Aside from one guy who doesn’t think I’m doing my part to get Donald Trump impeached (I’m still not clear what my role is supposed to be) I’ve not heard from anyone who doesn’t see merit in what I’m advocating for…progress. But there still aren’t many new subscribers and virtually no comments. Maybe that’s because you don’t know your role either. So here it is, If you think this is worthwhile, please share this page with three other people today and ask them to get involved in helping to reframe the way we talk about politics and vote next year…to focus on what the candidates are actually proposing to do.