Changes We Need in the Senate

The 2014 election will soon be upon us, and there are many senate seats up for grabs. The Senate (and Congress and a whole) is unpopular, and deservingly so. The partisan gridlock has prevented any meaningful legislation from passing, and the blame for this is shared by both parties. And the people of this country are not happy with the current state of affairs, but many Americans feel this will not change. In saying so they forget that they control the Senate and the House, and this November they have a chance to let their grievances be heard. In the Senate there are many races to keep track of, but a few are of great importance to our future as they feature candidates who are not career politicians.

Ben Sasse was depicted in the National Review as a rising star. The magazine was right to give the Nebraskan attention, because he is a person to watch and would make an excellent Senator. Unlike many candidates he has a background in academia. At the relatively young age of 37 he became the president of Midland University, a college in a steep decline that some said was on the verge of closing down entirely. But Sasse managed to increase freshman enrollment, balance the university’s budget, and has put the college on the road to a brighter future. That kind of leadership and know how is what the United States of America sorely needs. Nebraska is a solid red state, so there is a strong chance that we will see Mr. Sasse in the Senate soon. The Republican senate caucus has been revitalized by young, bold, and intelligent new figures such as Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ted Cruz of Texas. These senators, and many others with similar backgrounds, are providing the majority of the new ideas to the Senate. Rubio made a brave push for immigration reform, Paul stood up to the NSA, and Cruz and Paul reached across the aisle to work with Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand to address the problem of military sexual assault. If Sasse joins the Senate, he stands a good chance of joining this club of rising stars.

In Alaska, the Begich family stands tall in state politics. Nick Begich was a US Congressman in the early 1970s before disappearing while on a small airplane in the Alaskan wilderness. Mark Begich, son of Nick, is Alaska’s current senator. In 2014 he will be challenged by, among others, Dan Sullivan. Sullivan has experience in a wide range of fields from the military (he’s a former Marine) to foreign affairs (in the early 2000s he was a National Security advisor), to law and energy, the latter two he encountered while being first Attorney General and then National Resources commissioner in Alaska.

Begich’s campaign slogan declares that he is “as independent as Alaska”. Alaska does indeed have an independent spirit. There is something unique about Alaskans, perhaps derived from the remote and wild nature of their northern state, that leads to a healthy skepticism whenever Washington DC claims that it knows best. Begich claims that he reflects this, but his record does not. If ever there was a state for which the Affordable Care Act was ill suited for, the Last Frontier would be it. The long distances between towns makes a centralized health care program ineffective. Yet Begich voted for the health care law. Alaska has a gun culture that is logical considering the vast game reserves present in the state. Yet Begich has an extensive record of voting for gun control measures. While oil exploration could be harmful in some states, its potential impact in Alaska is much less than in the lower forty eight; Alaska has a robust environment, vast areas of which are protected in the forms of state and federal parks and reserves. Dan Sullivan, more than any of the candidates (Begich as well as his primary rivals Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell) embodies the interests of Alaskans. The main criticism of Sullivan is that he was not born in Alaska, he was born into a very rich Ohio family that made its fortune with the RPM Corporation. That point in valid. But when the question of what candidate has the best interests of Alaska at heart, birthplace means much less than political positions and results. An objective look at the question suggests that Dan Sullivan is the candidate best for Alaska.

Every two years America has the chance to change course. If you live in Nebraska or Alaska (among other states), you have a prime opportunity to made a change this November.