Biannual Congressional Elections Essay, Research Paper
type: Term Paperbody:The biannual Congressional elections offer a number of insights into the principles and practices that guide our democratic system. They are a major barometer of the attitude that the American people have toward the government. The level of confidence that people have in the system and the stance that they take on particular issues are often discernible through an examination of the election results. The recent, 1998 election offers us a number of facts and a tremendous amount of information concerning our government today, while being effected by the biggest sex scandal of the year. This issue seemed to have not only a significant effect on President Clinton himself, who was directly involved in the dirty mass, but it also happened to touch the two major parties, mainly for the purpose of victory. Both Democrats and Republicans hoped to aim the Lewinsky matter towards their individual goals to help themselves win the elections, but did not quiet achieve anything concentr!ating on the scandal. So, what really happened on Tuesday, November 3, 1998? As the latest results show, Republicans did gain victory, once again holding the majorities of both chambers this year, while Democrats on the other hand won many election battles, gaining five seats in the House. Nevertheless, Democrats being the losers, still celebrated their unexpectedly good showing in U.S. midterm elections as Republicans weighed the political fall-out from the key losses in New York, California and the South. Democrats scored across the board, picking up seats in the House, blocking any Republican gains in the Senate and winning the election’s single biggest prize — the governorship of California. They certainly fought the Republicans to a standstill in Tuesday’s Senate election, defeating veterans like Senator Alfonse D’Amato of New York and Lauch Faircloth in North Carolina, and re-electing most of their own endangered incumbents. When all the races were called, Republicans had a 55-45 lead o!ver Democrats in the Senate and 223 to 211 in the House – the same margin they held before the campaign began, although they had high hopes of increasing their lead by 5 to a filibuster-proof 60(1998 Elections 1). Many Democrats, including Randy Tate, who viewed Republicans’ victory unfavorably, thought they did not have an agenda of “burning” issues to present to voters and that is exactly why they did not do as well as they expected to. This complain meant that some agenda will beat no agenda every time(Gorin 2). Therefore, the election results proved that issues do matter; issues make a difference and that is just what worked for Democrats. They came out because they had issues that they cared about, simply put. Things like education, health care, Social Security and jobs counted a lot. Over half the voters said this is what they care about. Republicans on the other hand ran to the short sight of the field. They mainly ran on scandal, grabbing some moral vote and l!ittle bit of taxes. But as the election statistics showed 58 peISSUES ‘98:The debate over the Social Security this fall was different from years past, when the major political heat came from seniors worrying about cuts in benefits. All sides in the debate said today’s retirees will be affected little by the change under consideration. What’s driving the debate now is the worry that the program can’t meet the demands of today’s workers when they retire in the next century. In addressing this problem it was suggested to adjust the tax rates, but many said the payroll tax is already high and disproportionately paid by lower income workers. Instead, it was pointed out that the answer lies in allowing people to use some of their own tax money to prepare for retirement. Polls have found the public receptive to this idea, and even President Clinton has held out the possibility he might support such an opinion. As for candidates, it is evident that both parties are talking about the problem. But even though, many Republicans have only talked up the i!nvestment option, many Democrats have said the budget surplus should be used to preserve Social Security rather than to finance cuts in the income, capital gains or inheritance taxes(Welch 1).The defense issue is something that two parties have totally opposite views on. Threatening new missile tests in North Korea and Iran boosted Republican hopes that defense issue would work against Democrats this fall. But the GOP has tried and failed for years to exploit military issues at a time when the Democrats have a president with no military record(Komarow 1). Some of the popular strategies that have been used by Democrats in addressing this problem are that military has performed well in every recent mission, from invading Haiti to sending missiles against alleged terrorist sites, and that without the immediate threat of the Soviet empire there simply isn’t much to worry about. Afterall, there are many other things that could be considered for help from the defense spending. The abortion issue splits the Republican party among conservatives who want to ban the procedure, moderates who favor various limits and supporters of abortion rights. But nearly all Republicans have united behind legislation that would ban a particular late-term abortion procedure that foes call “partial birth” abortion unless the life of the mother is at sake(Lee 1). Many Democratic congressional candidates on the other hand have no intention for the support of banning abortion. Instead, they say that Congress’ Republican majority is too “obsessed” with the issue, believing that voters are offended by the graphic ads that Republicans are running.Public outrage over abuses in the nation’s political money system during the 1996 presidential campaign brought back to the forefront in 1997. But despite the now-familiar litany of problems – including illegal foreign contributions and stealth “issue ads” promoting candidates – the momentum toward rules changes stalled in 1998. Majorities in the House and Senate have voted for bills that would ban the raising and spending by the national political parties of “soft money”, the large, unregulated gifts by special interests that are at the root of the most publicized abuses. The bill also would regulate more strictly issue advertising, which are television spots that advocate issue positions but often are really thinly veiled election-season ads for candidates. In general, the campaign finance reform is not considered as a high-priority issue, even though the current system is not liked. Nevertheless, many Republicans argued that special-interest money pouring into electio!ns is not corrupting, so long as it is publicly disclosed (Drinkard 1).Concerning the issue of environment, Democrats are eager to address climate change and global warming concerns, but Republicans question the reliability of the underpinning theories. Democrats also are seeking ways to make use of voter anxiety about overdevelopment and urban sprawls, while Republicans press the rights of property owners against government regulation(USA TODAY 2).The spirit of last year’s bipartisan budget agreement is a distant memory in this election year. Congressional Republicans and President Clinton are making threatening sounds about a budget showdown, and GOP lawmakers are locked in disagreement with each other over a fresh round of tax cuts. Many Republican candidates around the country echo House speaker Newt Gingrich’s call for more tax cuts, as a correction for unintended additional tax that confront many married couples, where as polls show another tax cut trailing issues such as Social Security and health care on voters’ wish list this year. Democrats are generally sticking with President Clinton’s argument that Congress should rescue Social Security from future insolvency before devoting any money to tax cuts. And many Republicans, particularly in Senate, are wary that cutting taxes now would be stepping into a Social Security firestorm(Welch 1).Horror stories about patients’ mistreatment at the hand of health maintenance organizations have again made health care regulation an election-year issue for Congress. Congressional Democrats and President Clinton have cited HMO abuses in arguing for legislation to create a “patients’ bill of rights”. Recognizing the voter appeal, congressional Republicans responded with their own, less far-reaching proposals to regulate health care plans. Their version was passed by House Republicans, but got stalled in the Senate, where Democrats have been pressing for broader regulations, such as requiring that health plans pay for emergency room care, provide access to doctors and specialists and protect from abrupt changes in care in the middle of treatment for a disease or illness. The biggest difference though between the parties on health reform is the issue of accountability. A 25-year-old law makes it virtually impossible for Americans covered by employer-provided manage-care pl!ans to sue those insurers for malpractice in denying or delaying care. Democrats, who strictly oppose this prohibition are trying to drop it(Welch 1).Another, mostly Democratically supported issue was tobacco. Earlier this year Democrats hoped to trumpets the passage of a landmark anti-smoking bill in their bid to retake the House of Representatives in the recent November election, but the tobacco industry spent over $40 million on ads to help kill the legislation in the Senate by branding it as a big-tax, big-government measure. The industry continues to run ads nationwide on CNN and network radio to ensure that the bill remains dead(Kosh 1). The Republicans, who did not consider to touch this issue have not had any effect on it so far.As in overall, this year’s election seemed to show that issues won over anything else, which has not been the occurrence in recent years. Even though money has always been a significant part of winning, November’s election proved that candidates won for what they said, and not for how full their pockets were.Trying to win this election Democrats used many new and very successful techniques, such as absentee ballot programs, early balloting programs, successful model voter contacting and good training of activists(Gorin 2). Even though their victory was overcome by Republicans, it was not by much, as a direct result of their strategies and also, mainly, the interests they revealed in caring what people wanted to see achieved. PAC’S was another factor that helped to shape the election heavily, playing an important role for both parties. It is evident that both Republican and Democratic PAC’s transferred a total of $1.3 million to their respective state parties in Michigan(Hartman 3). Even though the message of this election was that issues favor over the money, this factor did not seem to die out fully, in fact, it still showed its great effect on our government today. It is obvious that PAC’S are and always have been extremely consequential in terms of power, which the elections one way or another are determined by. They help to gain financial aid to the non-millionaire society, assisting them to stand a chance in races for any type of position and also showing the results of actual support one is receiving. Special interest groups, such as Tobacco Industry and Rifle Association also worked the same way. They were there to persuade Congress members to help them vote against anti-smoking bills!and gun control to be passed, or issues that are self centered for a particular group. To assist in their victories they sometimes used lobbying, which could have been very controversial. For example, large amounts of money could be offered and often accepted by candidates as long as the groups gain their support, if not so, threatening to vote against is what one could get for not cooperating. Unfortunately, both PAC’s and lobbying have been often abused lately. Nevertheless, all that could be derived from this fact is that money could really buy anything these days. And although briberies and many other illegal things are viewed during the elections, this fall it was assured that honesty and integrity were restored. As far as the costs of the election go, they will not be known for months, but estimates from Common Cause put the candidates’ fundraising and expenses in excess of $630 million and additional money raised by the national parties from special interest grou!ps in excess of $162 million. So once again, and just like alwaHENRY HYDE vs. THOMAS CRAMERHenry John Hyde is one of the most senior Republicans in Congress and chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 18, 1924, Hyde was raised a Roman Catholic and a Democrat, but soon realized that his family’s party did not mesh with his basic doctrine(Biography 1). Before heading off to college, Hyde served in the Navy from 1942-46, and in the Naval Reserve from 1946-68, where he became a Commander. Subsequent to his military service, Hyde attended Duke University from 1943-1944 and then Georgetown University where he graduated with a B.S. in 1947. Pursuing a career as a lawyer, Hyde attended Loyola University School of Law and obtained his J.D. in 1949, receiving Various Honorable Doctorate Degrees(Biography 2). The following year, in 1950 he became an attorney, as a private practice specializing in litigation. Henry has also been involved in organizational memberships, such as being a president of Trial Lawyers Club of Chicago and guardi!an of Small Business. Besides that he has received a multiple number of awards. Among them were being chosen for “Catholic American of the Year 1994″, achieving the “Watchdog of the Treasury Award”, “Grace Caucus Award”, “Sound Dollar Award”, and “National Security Leadership Award”, which tells us a lot about his potential. As far as politics go, he also had some true experiences, being a former Chairman of Illinois Crime Investigating Commission and US House Republican Policy Committee, Majority Leader of Illinois House of Representatives in the years of 1971-1972, and a Representative of Illinois for 18th District in 1967-1975(Rep. Hyde 1). Currently, Henry Hyde is an Illinois state Representative of U.S. House for the 6th District, whose little known challengers in this fall’s election were Democrat, Thomas Cramer and Libertarian Meyers. Henry, being first elected since November 5th in 1974 have been holding his office till this present moment and therefore had no difficulty defeating his opponents. He easily overshadowed them with his popularity and previous political, as well as professional experience, receiving the total vote of 111,169, which translated into 67 percent, comparing to 30 of Cramer’s and only 3 percent of Meyers’s(Il. Gov. & Politics 5). This wasn’t a hot race at all and obviously was not a hard task for Hyde to perform in order to win. His victory was simple and clean, and could be explained as a plain tradition. In other words, people got so used to seeing him as a chairman of Judiciary Committee for 24 years, that nominating anyone else was not a question. As a result, not only Hyde ha!d nothing to worry about loosing, but he didn’t even have to raise any money for the campaign. Nonetheless, his net receipts were estimated to total $546,467, where $321,666 of it came from the support of many PAC’s. They included $10,359 from agriculture, $10,000 from defense, $28,800 from health, $12,000 from construction, $29,250 from transportation, $14,750 from lawyers and lobbyists and more from the other minor ones, who surely helped him hold the victory(Camp. Finance Report 1-2).Hyde’s key issues concerning the November election have included voting yes to: overriding the “partial birth” abortion veto, reducing Medicare growth, and denying public education to illegal immigrants. He also voted no on: repealing a ban on certain assault weapons, increasing minimum wage, tax cuts, smaller government and freezing defense spending. Right now, Henry Hyde, whose wife died of ovarian cancer in 1992 is widowed and has five children and five grandchildren, but surprisingly enough, an interesting point has come up recently that had a little shake on the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. It’s been evident, since Hyde, himself acknowledged, that he had a five-year extramarital relationship with a married woman named Cherie Snodgrass 30 years ago(Why We Ran The Henry Hyde Story 8). The compromise of these news was seen in the point that the leader of the inquiry into whether President Bill Clinton should be impeached for lying about the Monica Lewinsky affair, himself was involved in one. People were outraged to see what was carried out by Republicans over the Lewinsky scandal, whereas the Judiciary Chairman himself committed an equal adultery. In this case it was thought that what holds true for President Clinton must be evenly true of the august figure who leads the committee sitting in judgment upon hi!m — Rep. Henry Hyde. And the question that has been raised asked, if the fact that Hyde engaged in an adulterous affair, and tried to keep it hidden from his family and constituents, mean he is not fit to hold public office. The answer of course is absolutely not, so than why not put an end to the confusion of the personal and politics? This argument, even though seemed unfair to many, did not help Clinton to escape the trap, but surely enough left a dirty stain on Henry’s name, which could be considered a problem for the next election of the year 2000.BIBLIOGRAPHY1. “1998 Elections.” ELECTIONS U.S.A. Nov. 1998. www.geocities.com/CapitalHill/6228/1998results.htm. Online. NEC. Dec. 2,1998. 2. Wendy Koch. “Elections.” USA Today Nov. 6,1998. e010.htm at www.usatoday.com. Online. NEC. Dec. 2,1998. 3. Steven Komarow. “Elections.” USA Today Nov. 6,1998. e010.htm at www.usatoday.com. Online. NEC. Dec. 2,1998. 4. William M. Welch. “Elections.” USAToday Nov. 6,1998. e010.htm at www.usatoday.com.Online. NEC. Dec. 2,1998.5. Jim Drinkard. “Elections.” USAToday Nov. 6,1998. e010.htm at www.usatoday.com. Online. NEC. Dec. 2,1998. 6. Jessica Lee. “Elections.” USA Today Nov. 6,1998. e010.htm at www.usatoday.com. Online. NEC. Dec. 2,1998. 7. “Why We Ran The Henry Hyde Story.” NEWSREAL Nov. 4,1998. http://www.PBS.org./plweb-cgi/fastweb?getdoc+pbsonline+363+15+WAAA+Y biography%26henry%26hyde. Online. NEC. Dec. 5,1998.8. Stuart Gorin. “Republicans Hold Majorities But Democrats Win Election Battles.” Nov. 5,1998. ehttp://www.USIAGov/USA/election98/#camp.html. Online. NEC. Dec. 5,1998.