Voting When it Matters

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Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio skips Senate vote meetings on his campaign touring.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Flickr

Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio skips Senate vote meetings on his campaign touring.

One of the most important building blocks to a functioning democratic government is the expression of one’s stance to polarizing topics of society. The right to abortion, the legalization of immigration, the granting of previously unrecognized rights to a minority of citizens; these and more are the subjects that the vote of a Senator can change with a simple “yea” or “nay” response.

However, in recent times, that privilege has become a tool often taken for the self-benefit of some senators. This is achieved by regularly avoiding Senate calls for voting on new proposed bills, as well as avoiding important points of discussion shared amongst democrats and republicans.

Take for instance, the recent inactivity of Marco Rubio, U.S. Republican Senator of Florida. According to govtrack.us, a website dedicated to tracking the actions and progression of Congress members in the United States, Rubio has missed 11.8 percent of all roll call votes in Congress, coming at a whopping 91.7 percent votes missed in all of October. His absence in all votes has been noted since January 2011. In comparison, the median of votes missed in a Congress member’s lifetime is currently 1.6 percent.

Rubio has missed votes recently because, according to his statement on Oct. 25th to CNN reporter Jamie Gangel, “Everyone needs to run their own campaign,” referring to his campaign for the 2016 U.S. Presidency Election.

Just four days prior, according to the Huffington Post, Rubio said the following in the Senate hearing for his proposed bill involving the Department of Veteran Affairs: “If you work at the VA, and you aren’t doing your job, they get to fire you.”

It wouldn’t be so bad if Rubio didn’t add the following line to his statement: “This should actually be the rule in the entire government, where if you’re not doing your job, you should be fired.”

So, according to Rubio’s logic, it is okay for him to continue missing potentially important votes and roll calls in the Senate, a position in which the Florida chose him to represent his birthplace. But when the congressmen with whom he converses do the same, he believes they should be fired for not doing their job.

There’s a word in the English vernacular for beliefs such as that.

It’s called: Hypocrisy.

Rubio is proving himself to be nothing more than a textbook example of what a dirty and biased politician is like. The icing to this cake of lies appears when he reasons that the attendance of his party’s staffer ensures that he receives the full story of the Senate hearing.

“We do all the intelligence briefings,” Rubio said. “I was just there this Tuesday. I got fully briefed and caught up on everything that’s happening in the world. I’m fully aware. We have a staffer that’s assigned to intelligence who gets constant briefings. I think votes, of course, are important, but unfortunately, too many of them today are not meaningful.”

Here’s a little tip for Rubio and his aspiring followers: Just because someone else attended the meeting and you ask them to look at their notes, it doesn’t mean you attended the meeting, let alone actively participated in it.

The citizens of Florida are paying for a representative that thinks the sole aspect of his job, which is to represent his state by voting and participating in important federal business, is “not meaningful.”

Why else is every single citizen of this nation given the opportunity to engage in the political process through the simple act of casting vote and opinion? They have the opportunity so that they can make a difference and collaborate alongside others with similar and contrasting reasons — not so they can squander it and let others take over the vote that they disagree with.

Perhaps Rubio is right that his vote would not matter in the sea of votes from all other Senators on the floor and maybe it would be right for him to bow out of Senate to let the real professionals of politics handle the debates and votes. However, for him to ignore his primary duty as Senator to chase an already difficult dream of becoming the next U.S. President is a complete joke.

So what exactly is Rubio telling the American public with his actions and his words?

What we are being told is that his presence does not matter in the Senate among his peers. I don’t know about you, but if I was given a six-figure salary to sit in a room full of hard-boiled politicians passing the next SOPA bill, I would think that my presence does matter, at least a little bit.

The reality of democracy is that not only does everyone get to speak, but that everyone is encouraged to do so: To share similar or contrasting points that challenge moral issues and social injustices. When a representative abandons his or her responsibilities by failing to vote, citizens are left remaining silent on the issues that matter — the same issues that others can take advantage of.

The lesson to be learned from this spectacle of deceit and tomfoolery: if you are elected to represent your state and are expected to advocate for the wants and needs of that state: Do your job.

Don’t call in sick and say you’ll catch up whenever you want.

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