Welcome back to the HoZ Demokratia series – longer than memes about politics, but hopefully more informative! We will soon be drilling down closer to the local level, but today we’re going to start with Northern Nevada’s representation in the national government, in the House of Representatives. First, some very basic and highly condensed background:
As you may or may not vaguely remember from high school social studies or government class, the legislative branch of the USA (the people who vote to make laws) is divided into two groups: the Senate, in which each state is represented by two people, regardless of the size of the state, and the House of Representatives, in which states are represented by multiple people, depending on the population of the state. These bodies are collectively referred to as “Congress.”
Every state is divided into congressional districts, and each Representative in the House specifically represents their own district. Districts are usually, but not always, drawn around population centers. Screwing around with the boundaries of congressional districts for some kind of political advantage is called gerrymandering, and it is a huge problem, but that is a topic for another day.
What this means is, ideally, that what your Representative represents is you and your specific community. Senators, by contrast, are expected to represent the state as a whole. That’s why it’s important to know who your Representative is, because it is literally their job to listen to YOU and act based on your concerns at the national level. Representatives are also up for re-election EVERY TWO YEARS, which means that you don’t have to wait very long to hold them accountable.
Here is a congressional map of the state of Nevada. Note the large block that occupies the entire northern part of the state. That is Nevada Congressional District 2. You are here.
District 2 is currently represented by Mark Amodei. He has held this position since 2011, he has been active in Nevada politics since 1997, and is trained as a lawyer. More details about his personal life can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Amodei, but his biography is pretty standard for a long-term political office-holder.
Here is a link to Amodei’s voting record:
I don’t think most people realize how many bills get voted on in the House in a normal day of business. We typically only tune in when something sensational is going on (or something that we have been told should be considered sensational), but when Congress is in session, these guys are there, voting away on everything from climate intervention to expanding their parking lot.
Seriously, there was actually a vote to expand the parking lot used by the House about a year and a half ago. I don’t remember how it went.
Anyway. Most bills are long, complicated, and frequently have misleading titles, so that some Representatives, being just as human, busy, and prone to boredom as anyone else, will not read it very carefully. I don’t expect anyone to actually slog through the links to the bills (though you can!), and I will refrain from offering too much of my personal opinion about Amodei.
There are, however, a couple key points in Amodei’s recent voting record that I would like to call your attention to.
First, Amodei has voted against nearly every bill that has to do with the climate or environment (just skim through).
Second, he voted against HR 3239: Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act
Third, he voted against H Res 489: Condemning President Trump’s Racist Comments Directed at Members of Congress
Now, all of these measures I have pointed out did pass in the House, but nevertheless, Amodei voted against them. Does he actually oppose the ideas and concepts these bills advocate? I don’t know. Probably not deep down. But overall, Amodei’s voting record falls entirely along Republican Party lines.
Ancient Greek democracy did not include political parties as we understand them today. You had alliances over particular issues or military campaigns, certainly, but every individual was expected to hold and take responsibility for their own viewpoint. As a member of the American democracy and a student of the Greek one, I find this a positive ideal and I am not impressed by individuals who “tow the party line” virtually without exception.
To see how Mr. Amodei presents himself, see his webpage: https://amodei.house.gov/.
In the 2020 election cycle, the declared Democratic challenger for the 2nd District’s congressional seat is Clint Koble: https://www.kobleforcongress.com/. You will note that this is another older Caucasian gentleman, but this should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Koble does not have a background as a politician, and so there is no voting record to refer to. However, here are some articles and interviews in which he expresses what his priorities are:
And here’s a town hall meeting: https://www.kolotv.com/video?vid=540597042
You will notice that some of these are from 2018 – yes, Koble ran against Amodei in 2018 and lost. However, he did manage to get more votes than any Democrat has in this district for a very long time. So he’s trying again.
I have chosen in this post to focus only on the incumbent Republican and his declared Democratic party challenger. Obviously additional smaller parties and independents are a part of every election. Unfortunately, we are in a place right now where the successful election of an independent candidate presents nothing short of a Herculean Labor. I would like to see that change, but I doubt it will be accomplished in 2020. So, for now we are just talking about Amodei and Koble.
There are currently no scheduled in-person campaign events for either of these two, but I am sure that will change as November 2020 gets closer. Amodei has a history of avoiding the Reno area, however, so he may require some chasing. I am down for a field trip if others are!