This is How the Senate Election Will Affect Our Democracy

Akash Bhowmick, Online Staff Writer

For the longest time, the American ideals have centered around one idea: democracy. Whether we were trying to preserve it in our own borders or fighting battles to protect it abroad, almost every American can agree that our dedication to democracy is central to what makes this nation what it is.

As you probably know, we as a nation recently had the opportunity to exercise this idea of democracy, with a presidential and congressional election occurring on November 3. While the presidential election received the most attention, given the power that is vested in the role of president for our governmental system, congressional elections are also equally important. Without the support of Congress, a President’s agenda can often be hindered or completely halted. Specifically, without the Senate on their side, a President’s ability to appoint government officials might be contested, while the power of having the Senate on a President’s side became apparent in the fight over Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

In this case, the Democrats have won both the Presidency and the House of Representatives, but the Senate will be decided with two Senate runoffs in Georgia, set to occur in early January. Subsequently, there is immense debate as to whether it would be beneficial to our democracy if the Democratic Party won the Senate too. Although Republicans have 50 seats secured presently, if Democratic candidates Jon Ossof and Raphael Warnock win in Georgia, the Senate will be split 50/50, and any tying votes will be decided by the vice president, who in this case, will be Democrat Kamala Harris. 

There are numerous arguments for the benefits of the Democrats winning the Senate. For example, sophomore Peter Ryan noted, “I for one, am in favor of a Democratically run Senate as I believe it will enable lawmakers to further advance policies, thus helping us persevere through the racial and economical damage that has haunted this nation over the past months. Progress is key to heal the nation but unfortunately, with a corrupt and gridlocked executive and legislative branch, no healing will be done on behalf of the people, thus making it essential for the Democrats to gain control. If this does not occur, I fear that the advancement of basic issues will not prevail, exacerbating the wounds of this nation.”

This sentiment is similar to the many arguments that radical change is needed to pull our country its current state, with many specifically citing the economic turmoil the nation is in right now and how previous Democrats, like Obama and FDR, have helped pull us out of recession and other forms of economic uncertainty.

On the other hand, many are wary of the seemingly unbounded power that control of the Senate, House, and Presidency would grant the Democratic party. Senior Varun Rao raised this concern, saying, “For the preservation of our democracy and to ensure there are checks and balances across all branches of government, it is best that there is a split in Congress. If that doesn’t occur, the party in charge would propose more ‘radical’ legislation, which is not necessarily what is the best for the nation.” This point of view emphasizes the system of checks and balances our nation’s government was built on and echoes the beliefs of many who don’t think that a singular party having a majority in two of the three branches of government will benefit our nation. The third branch is currently composed of a 6-3 majority of judges nominated by Republican presidents; however, it is not supposed to be a partisan body.  

In addition there are many who believe that the balance of power between parties is not the main problem at hand. Upper School history teacher Mr. Hunt emphasized this perspective, stating, “In my humble opinion, both houses of the legislature being dominated by a single party–while certainly not ideal–is not the only problem. An arrogant, cultic partisanship, and a system riddled with cynical, arrogant politicians who seem motivated mostly by personal greed and special interests is what I find most distressing.” This point of view demonstrates the frustration many have with the state of politics, and the divisiveness and corruption that have recently arisen in the political scene. 

While there are many different opinions about the effect of the Senate election on our democracy, it is important to assume good intentions and that everyone wants what is best for this country. The difference between these perspectives lies in the focus of the individual and what they think is good for our nation, and each of these views has given us a unique and necessary perspective in understanding our democracy.

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