Dear Members of Congress: Please Think for Yourself When You Vote

This week, the U.S. House voted to endorse an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Not surprisingly, the vote was nearly unanimously along party lines.

All 194 Republicans voted NO and 232 out of 234 Democrats voted YES.

I decided to try and calculate the probability of such a vote happening if every Representative voted the way they normally do. I assumed that both Republicans and Democrats vote along party lines 99% of the time (that seems quite high, and if it’s true, that’s quite sad; but I wanted to err on the side of caution).

I then assumed that the way Representatives vote is a binomial distribution, which basically means it has two outcomes, like a coin toss. In this case, the two outcomes are a YES vote or a NO vote.

So my first calculation was essentially asking: what is the probability of all 194 Republicans voting NO, assuming they would each independently do so 99% of the time. Plugging the numbers into my calculator, I get a probability of 14%. (If I were to assume that they vote along party lines just 95% of the time, the probability of this outcome is .005%, or 1 out of 20,000.)

My second calculation was asking for the probability of 232 Democrats voting YES and 2 voting NO, assuming they would all vote YES 99% of the time. In this case, the probability is about 26%.

(By the way, anyone who is more skilled at Statistics is more than welcome to correct my numbers.)

In both cases, the numbers tell us that the odds of getting the vote that actually took place were relatively low, yet that is what happened.

This suggests that these Representatives are not thinking for themselves at all, but just blindly voting along party lines.

I would much rather have a person in Congress who thinks for him or herself, even if they placed a vote that I did not agree with (ideally, the reps would vote in a way that I support, but that is not the issue here.)

If the Reps are just going to vote along party lines all the time, then what’s the point of even having a vote?

So all I ask, Dear Congress, is that the next time there is a vote, do some research on the topic at hand, decide what is best for the country, and then place your vote.

I would think this would lead to more bipartisanship, and having decisions made that we would all be more likely to favor and support.

*image from Think for Yourself

16 thoughts on “Dear Members of Congress: Please Think for Yourself When You Vote

  1. Thank relentless Republican gerrymandering and a judiciary that is more and more politicised for that vote. Politicians are ruled by the extremes of the party that elected them. Listening to the other side, the middle, or their own conscience is a good way to get unelected. Politicians send our sons and daughters overseas to risk life and limb while they lack the courage risk losing a lousy election at home.

  2. This is an excellent post highlighting the division created merely by political affiliation. I can only wish that your admonition to politicians would be heeded, but I fear that it will not. Every politician, of both parties, makes decisions based on being re-elected, not on the good of the people. It has gone on for so long that we not accept the behavior. I have lost all sense that any politician really gives a rat’s ass about my situation, your situation, or anyone else’s, save their own.

  3. I don’t think the members of Congress should think for themselves. The members of Congress need to think of those who elected them, as we trust those we vote for to make the right decisions for us. Considering the recent events I would have thought everyone in the house, both Dems and Republicans would have voted Yay for this impeachment

    1. Good points, LaShawn. Since I will likely not be familiar with many issues that Congress needs to vote on, I want a rep that is willing to take the time to study the issue and make an informed decision.

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