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The Election That Really Matters Is At The Bottom Of The Ballot

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2016-10-26-1477488177-1007633-5535613157_305e02413d_oUSCapitol.jpg
The United States capitol. (Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr/Creative Commons)

There's a lot more to this election than who becomes president. In fact that's the least of it. Because the real power resides in Congress -- with the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. And while I suppose we've always known this, it's never been more obvious than during the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency.

For his first two years, the Democrats held a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the 2010 midterm elections, the Republicans regained control of the House. And then they regained control of the Senate in 2014.

When you have one party that simply refuses to play nicely with others -- think Ted Cruz reading the Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham in a marathon filibuster intended to bring down the Affordable Care Act -- you don't get too far without a majority.

It wasn't always thus. I remember a time when at least some senators on both sides of the aisle were willing to reach across the aisle and work together to get things done, when they worked in the best interest of the American people.

John McCain was one of them. Which is why I was so shocked (and disgusted) when he recently said that "the Republican Party will block anyone Hillary Clinton names to the Supreme Court."

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Sen. John McCain (L) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R). (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Don't the Republicans realize it's this very attitude that's made Americans so angry? Don't they realize that it's probably the reason why so many Americans have turned against establishment politicians, that it's probably the reason why Donald Trump has defied the odds and done so well?

Don't the Republicans realize that Trump's "dissing" them every bit as much as he's dissing the Democrats? That he wants to change all of Washington? (Albeit not in a good way, not that his supporters care about that.)

Of course, the GOP are desperate now. It looks like they're resigned to the fact that they might lose the White House. So it's no wonder that maintaining control of Congress is top of mind with them, and that's where they're concentrating most of their energy, efforts and cash.

Obviously I have no way of knowing this for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if that's why John McCain said what he said. To reach out to the party stalwarts, for the good of the party and, obviously, to retain his own seat. He's up for re-election himself.

hillary trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Million Air Orlando. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Lets hope the congressional races are top of mind with voters, too...

Between the email scandal that just won't go away and the never-ending accusations, threats and lies coming out of Donald Trump's pouty-lipped potty mouth, the down-ballot race going on right now isn't getting the attention it deserves. Not good, because the stakes are very, very high.

To flip control of the House, the Democrats have to pick up 30 seats.Which, even for an optimist, doesn't really seem doable. It's not as onerous a task in the Senate, but the Democrats still have work to do.

So unless voters want the next four years to look like the last eight, they better show up at voting booths and pay as much attention to the bottom of the ballot as they do to the top.

Last Sunday night, Sixty Minutes went to Ohio, often considered the most important swing state. Boy, are they ever divided. Pretty much 50-50. Even married couples are voting for different candidates.

Unless voters want the next four years to look like the last eight, they better pay as much attention to the bottom of the ballot as they do to the top.

One of the voters they interviewed was a pregnant mother of four, a registered Republican who has never voted anything but Republican. Until this year.

She said she could not vote for Donald Trump. She said she was waiting to hear something from Hillary Clinton that would compel her to vote for a Democrat for the first time in her life. She said she was keeping an open mind about it and was hoping she'd get what she needed to vote for her. Her worst-case scenario was that she would not cast a vote for the president, but she would vote down-ballot in an effort to ensure the Republicans keep control of Congress.

I think it's time we all turned our attention to the tight congressional races going on. For that matter, a few prayers wouldn't hurt, either.

Because a Clinton victory without at least a majority in the Senate worries me. As we've already learned the hard way, it would definitely make her job a helluva lot more difficult, if not close to impossible. And what kind of a victory would it be if the Republicans band together to block her every move? It's happened before.

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