Last October marked a digression from the usual lack of disturbances in the Capitol. In an event coined the “government shutdown,” 800,000 government employees were indefinitely furloughed and 1.3 million others worked without knowledge of their next paycheck. This event was largely the result of squabbles among both parties’ leadership.
Outrage surrounding the shutdown has since died off, as many of the perpetrators will seek re-election. Among them, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office will ensure that she outspends her competition by two orders of magnitude. Even accounting for the chance of a Cantoresque upset, public apathy stems from the apparent inevitability of McMorris Rodgers’ bid.
Our top-two election system ensures that her only challenger will be who the 5th Congressional District presumes to have the best chance. In most cases, this challenger would be a Democrat, yet party politics caused the shutdown. Our system is rigged toward these conflicts, so nonpartisan voters are forced into apathy or dissatisfaction.
The third option is to vote independent. While conventions dictate that independent voting lacks political efficacy, there exists a threshold where political apathy can overturn the conventions. In other words: What do we have to lose?