EDITORIAL: Better know a district

Editorial Board

While the political focus among college students this year has largely fallen on the race to the presidency, students must keep in mind some other pressing elections: those that will elect their congressmen and senators.

As you may recall from sixth grade social studies, members of Congress are elected every two years and senators every six. This means that in 2008, practically every member of the House is up for reelection, as is a third of the Senate, if they are (not Ted Stevens) running.

However, if you ask the average student at Villanova to name his or her state senators or district representative, you may get some depressing results. A Gallup poll conducted in May 2008 gave the 110th Congress an 18 percent approval rating, one of the lowest in its history and even lower than the president’s of 29 percent. Though the Democratic-controlled body garnered this dismal number, it is unlikely that the general public could name one single issue that Congress is presently working on.

The lack of attention to the Congressional elections, especially among young voters, is especially troubling because Congress has just as much power as the presidency in the American political process. Ideally, the three branches of government are granted equal authority. However, Congress, with a 2/3 majority, can override a presidential veto as it did in 2007 with a Bush water bill when Congress had turned decidedly Democrat. The 109th Congress (with a Republican majority) was decidedly pro-Bush, whereas the 110th, with its new Democratic lean, tends to fight him tooth and nail.

The 111th Congress will most likely be even bluer after these midterm elections. Some pundits are even predicting a super-majority of 60 Democrats in the Senate, which would protect them from Republican filibuster. Combine that with a Democratic president and a Democratic House and you have a severe misrepresentation of party power.

If you vote absentee or if you are voting next Tuesday in Pennsylvania, make sure to look up the choices for Congress before you bubble those circles. Congress will play just as much of a role in the future of our nation as the president will, and it’s up to you, the voter, to decide who those players will be.