Glamour of presidential election outshines other important offices

Dan Lykens

The Beacon Editorial Board

Not enough students are aware of the 2012 election results.

No, not the presidential election. By now, everyone knows the winner of that. The result was broadcast all over
television and social media outlets the night of Nov. 6, on the front pages of all major newspapers on Nov. 7
and, even days before the election, exploited in the projections of ambiguous polls.

But some election results haven’t received as much attention by the public. Not many Wilkes students were
excited about the battle for congressional spots in Pennsylvania. Few were examining the results of the senate
race.

There wasn’t enough attention on state-level races, even though these are more likely to have an impact on
issues that matter to voters. Now that they’re over, there’s still the opportunity to become informed on the
winners of these elections and their stances. It’s the chance to get to know the public officials that will be
making major decisions for our country.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Democrat Bob Casey was re-elected as the U.S. senator
representing Pennsylvania. Democrat Kathleen Kane was won the election for Attorney General in the state.
Republican Lou Barletta was re-elected to the representative position in Congress for the 11th District, which
encompasses Wilkes-Barre.

When things are going wrong in the country, the public tends to blame the president. While our commander
in-chief has major responsibilities and powers, he is one man. There is a great deal of other elected officials
that have just as much, if not more, influence over issues facing our country.

These officials make up the legislative and judicial branches to our government. There were some major
politicians elected to these positions in the state of Pennsylvania that didn’t receive the same level of hype as
the presidential candidates, but will have just as much impact on our lives.

These officials will have many powers in their respective positions.

Through the powers of Congress, they have the major responsibility of creating laws. Article I of the
Constitution states:  “Congress shall have Power … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for
carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the
Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

Under this duty, any senator or congressman can introduce a bill. They also have the heavy responsibility to
vote on whether a bill should become a law, as described by Usgovinfo.about.com.

Congress members can also amend the constitution – granted in a long and difficult process – create money,
collect taxes, regulate international and domestic commerce, declare war and more. Sounds like a lot of things
that impact every American.

Within congress, House.gov states there are 435 voting representatives in the House of Representatives,
corresponding to the population in each of the 50 states.

The Senate is the upper and more limited legislative unit with only 100 members. Its exclusive ranks also
make it the more powerful chamber in the legislative process. Not to mention, a senator’s term is six years
compared to two years for a representative’s term. The vice president oversees the senators – disproving the
myth that the vice president doesn’t do anything.

Basically, these two selective groups that make up congress are the main vehicles of change and development
in our country’s laws. This is why we should pay close attention to who is elected to represent us.
The president has some role in the legislative process involving working with congress to suggest legislation
and lobbying for laws to pass. He also must sign each law into power or exercise his ability to veto it.
However, the president cannot enact laws.

The influence the president does have over legislation is not significant enough to justify ‘issue voting’ – that
is, voting for a president according to their opinions on laws regarding things like legalization of marijuana or
gay marriage. Supporting representatives or senators that have the ability to actually create these types of laws
would leave a bigger impact.

The presidency, of course, is a highly valuable office with duties regarding foreign policy, the military and
enforcement of laws in the U.S. But the roles within Congress are valuable too and deserve a comparable level
of attention during election season.

Now that these positions have been assigned for the 2012 elections, the most beneficial thing citizens can do is
inform themselves on their representatives and their work. The Internet makes it easy to look up the elected
officials and read about their policies. You can also easily look up the bills introduced in Congress, what
action Congress members are taking on them, who is sponsoring them and more.

And if you don’t like what an elected official is doing, contact their office. Make your voice be heard. After
all, they’re in that office to represent you. That’s why their appointments deserve our full attention, even if
they’re without the glamour of the White House.