Presidential dreams get in the way of constituents’ needs

Derek Thurber

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Derek ThurberThere are four major candidates for the presidential election in 2008 that are senators: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democrats and John McCain and Sam Brownback for the Republicans. Let’s be frank: All of these candidates have disregarded their elected duties as senators in order to run for president.

Sure, the presidency is important, and I want to know as much as the next guy which candidates stand for which issues because putting the wrong person in as president can be devastating, as has been seen in the past. But that does not mean that those candidates can blatantly disregard their elected duties.

Every one of those candidates was elected by their constituents to represent them in the Senate. Well, they are not doing that.

McCain has missed as many as 117 votes out of 228 so far this year. That is more than half of the votes. The other senators are not as bad, but they have still missed many votes. Brownback has missed 81 votes, and Obama has missed 10 percent of the votes so far. Clinton has been the one senator to keep good attendance in the Senate with only five missed votes since January of this year.

In their defense, none of the senators have missed votes that would have changed whether or not something was passed yet. However, there have been a few instances where it was close and would not have been close if they had been there. If they continue to miss votes like this, sooner or later it will change the outcome of some piece of legislation.

Perhaps more importantly than the votes themselves is their voice in the Senate. They all have their own opinions on the issues that could affect their fellow senators to vote in one way or another. With their absences their voices are not being heard. In this way, their absences can, and undoubtedly have, affected the outcome of legislation.

Still, yet another issue with the senators being on the campaign trail deals with their constituents. Much of the daily work of a senator is dealing with the people they are representing and their issues. When the senator is on a campaign trail, they are not very easy to get ahold of.

Many people’s issues are, in this way, not being represented in the ways that they are supposed to be. The senators have a constitutional obligation to represent their people’s concerns. These senators are not only not representing their concerns in the actual Senate, but they are not even hearing those concerns because they are too busy looking to higher offices.

It would be refreshing to see one of the senators who is running for president say, “I am running for president and this is why you should vote for me… but I am not going to shove it in your face; instead, I will continue to do my constitutional obligations of being a senator.” Would that really be so hard?

The presidential election is important, but it is not grounds for disregarding the obligations of being a senator.

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