A Different Political Divide

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The two GOP and two Democrats on the left vs the two GOP and two Democrats on the right.
The two GOP and two Democrats on the left vs the two GOP and two Democrats on the right.

Usually the political divide would be a horizontal split between the Republicans on the top row and the Democrats on the bottom row. The amendment by Rep. Justin Amash to sharply restrict the NSA phone surveillance program reveals a different political divide and split as shown by the featured image. The following is an excerpt of a CNN report on this vote.

The U.S. House on Wednesday narrowly defeated a proposal to sharply restrict the National Security Agency’s phone surveillance program that was exposed by Edward Snowden.

The Obama administration and House Speaker John Boehner, unlikely allies in the sharp partisan climate in Washington, joined forces to reject the limit offered as an amendment to a defense spending bill, 217-205.

A coalition of libertarian, liberal and conservative lawmakers pushed for curbs on the blanket collection of those records, arguing that it was too broad and intrusive.

A breakdown of the tally showed 134 Republicans voting with 83 Democrats to reject the measure offered by the Michigan odd couple of sophomore Republican Rep. Justin Amash and 25-term Democratic Rep John Conyers.

Boehner, who as speaker rarely votes on the House floor, opposed it as did House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
But 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats supported it.

Amash told reporters his amendment was “about the American people versus the elites in Washington.”

The roll call vote can be viewed here. We can’t know with certainty what our elected are thinking when they cast their votes, but this vote gives one pause to wonder if there really is a stormy bitter split between the House Republican leadership and Obama and Democrats. Is some of the harsh rhetoric just for theater? What also is showing up on this vote is a divide that has to do with young versus old. It reminds us that the constituents in at least some congressional districts have grown tired of electing more of the same, and they are electing the outsider into office. This happens in both the Republican and Democrat districts. The Wiki bio information below underscores this.

The Old Establishment Elites

John Boehner
61st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
age 63
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio’s 8th district
Assumed office January 3, 1991

In 1990, Boehner ran against incumbent congressman Buz Lukens, who was under fire for having a sexual relationship with a minor. He trounced Lukens in the primary, taking 49 percent of the vote. This was tantamount to election in the heavily Republican 8th District. He has been reelected 10 times with no substantial opposition, and even ran unopposed in 1994 and 2012.

Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader
age 73
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 12th district
Assumed office June 2, 1987

Phillip Burton died in 1983 and was succeeded by his wife, Sala. In late 1986, Sala became ill with cancer and decided not to run for reelection in 1988. She picked Pelosi as her designated successor, guaranteeing her the support of the Burtons’ contacts. Sala died on February 1, 1987, just a month after being sworn in for a second full term. Pelosi won the special election to succeed her, narrowly defeating San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt on April 7, 1987, then easily defeating Republican candidate Harriet Ross on June 2, 1987; Pelosi took office a week later.

Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader
age 50
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 7th district
Assumed office January 3, 2001

Cantor announced on March 14, 2000 that he would seek the seat in the United States House of Representatives that was being vacated by Tom Bliley. Cantor had chaired Bliley’s reelection campaigns for the previous six years, and immediately gained the support of Bliley’s political organization, as well as Bliley’s endorsement later in the primary.

Steny Hoyer
House Minority Whip
age 74
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland’s 5th district
Assumed office May 19, 1981

Fifth District Congresswoman Gladys Spellman fell into a coma three days before the 1980 election. She was reelected, but it soon became apparent that she would never regain consciousness, and Congress declared her seat vacant by resolution in February 1981. Hoyer narrowly won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary, beating Spellman’s husband Reuben by only 1,600 votes. He then defeated a better funded Republican, Audrey Scott, in the May 19 special election by 56%-44%, earning himself the nickname of “boy wonder”. In the 1982 general election, Hoyer won re-election to his first full term with 80% of the vote.

The Young Newcomers

Justin Amash
age 33
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan’s 3rd district
Assumed office January 3, 2011

On August 3, 2010, Amash won the five-way Republican primary for the seat vacated by retiring Republican Vern Ehlers with over 40% of the vote.

Eric Swalwell
age 33
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 15th district
Assumed office January 3, 2013

In September 2011, Swalwell filed papers to run for Congress in the 15th District. The district had previously been the 13th, represented by 20-term incumbent Pete Stark, a fellow Democrat. Stark had represented the district since 1973, seven years before Swalwell had been born. Swalwell was able to contest Stark after the primary due to a new primary system in California, under which the top two vote getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

Beto O’Rourke
age 40
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’s 16th district
Assumed office January 3, 2013

On May 29, 2012, O’Rourke defeated eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes in the primaries. He easily won in the general election with 65 percent of the vote.

Thomas Massie
age 42
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky’s 4th district
Assumed office November 6, 2012

In December 2011, Congressman Geoff Davis announced his decision to retire from his seat in Kentucky’s 4th congressional district. On November 6, 2012, Massie won both the general and special elections, defeating his opponent by a wide margin in both elections.

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1 Comment
  1. Kaitty says

    Our legislators are not reading and not hearing and not learning but they are listening to the odd ball paid for consultants! Unbelievable! They do not even know what the public is saying and telling them. They have so many assistants filtering incoming information and getting it wrong! It is pathetic.

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