If you want to make Election Day less stressful, make government less important.
Nationally, Republicans maintained control of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, and Democrats picked up a majority in the House. Results from Nevada’s U.S. Senate and governor’s races were unavailable by deadline. Joining millions around the country, many Nevadans stayed up late as results trickled in.
There are many reasons to closely follow election outcomes. Some people are political junkies, but others view elections as life-and-death gladiator matches. The races in Nevada attracted national attention, including tens of millions of dollars in advertising. While Republicans have held the Senate, maintaining Dean Heller’s seat would make it easier for the president to confirm judicial and Cabinet nominees. With Democrats controlling the House, however, expect gridlock — not an inappropriate outcome in a closely divided country.
In 2020, the Senate electoral map is much more favorable to Democrats. It’s possible that in two years Democrats will control the presidency and both houses of Congress — with nationalizing health care on the top of their priority list. The outcome of this year’s race between Heller and Jacky Rosen could be a factor in who controls the Senate in 2020.
For Nevadans, the stakes in the governor’s race are even higher. With Democrats maintaining control of the Legislature, putting Steve Sisolak in the Governor’s Mansion would give them unified control of Nevada government. Say hello to collective bargaining for state workers and goodbye to Nevada’s right-to-work status. Expect gun bans, property tax hikes, sanctuary state laws and a push to turn Nevada into California without the income taxes or beaches. A victory by Adam Laxalt preserves the state’s political balance.
There’s plenty to make observers on each side anxious, but it doesn’t have to be this way. One of the best aspects of limited government is that it has less impact on your life. Yet in today’s climate, elections stress more and more voters because government is so powerful that a lot is at stake.
The corollary to this is federalism — which is embedded in the oft-ignored 10th Amendment. Every issue that can be left to the states — including hot buttons such as abortion, gay marriage and education policy — should be. Many of those controversies have become national issues because the Supreme Court has intervened. Ironically, the confirmation battle over Brett Kavanaugh, whose philosophy suggests he supports returning power to the states, galvanized Republicans to several Senate victories.
Fear is an effective driver of voter turnout, so campaigns will never be free of negative ads. Still, those ads would be less effective if so much power weren’t at stake. It would be bad news for political columnists if there were less interest in politics and election results. But it would be a good thing for the country.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.