With Election Day coming up, it seems like all that’s on TV and the radio are political campaigns, debates and advertisements. It is not a presidential election, so what is all the fuss about?
1. The Logistics
Before getting into the political reasons of why you should vote, what policies are on the line and why your vote matters, let’s just talk about past elections.
During the last midterm election, only 42% of registered Americans voted. So even if ⅘ of voting age Americans (approx. 185 million people) are registered to vote, only 78 million voted. That is less than a third of the total population. Our country’s leaders are being decided by less than a third of the population. If you would like your values and section of the population to be represented proportionally in government, then make sure that you and all of your friends exercise a basic American right and vote.
For the readers between ages 18-37 (millennials and Generation Z’s, I am talking to you), only 20% of millennials voted in the last election. If none of the following facts convince you to vote, please just vote out of spite. Think of all the times that you’ve heard a baby boomer or anyone from older generations complain about how us millennials are “ruining the world” with our “apathy”, technology and avocado toast. Use that technology to get informed about elections and vote, so that we can decide our future.
(Want to learn more about who is going to be on your ballot? Click here to see candidates and compare their beliefs and campaigns to see who fits best with your ideals)
2. The Technicals
A politician who is seated in the House of Representatives serves two-year terms, and during this election, every single seat (435) is being voted on. Right now, the Republicans control the House with 241 seats, and Democrats hold 194. To win the majority, House Democrats would need to win every seat they hold now, plus 23 more.
A politician who is seated in the Senate serves 6 year terms, and during this election, about a ⅓ of the seats (35) are being voted on. There are 26 Democratic seats being voted on and 9 Republican seats. Currently, the Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, with 51 seats (Democrats hold 47 and there are 2 Independent Senators). To win the majority, Democrats would need to maintain their current seats and win 2 more.
Why is this important?
If the House and Senate become split between Democrats holding one and Republicans holding the other, get ready for a whole lot of nothing to get done. Compromises are what would keep the government moving, but that’s something which the U.S. government has been historically bad at.
If the Democrats win both, the government will become a different type of divided – White House vs. Congress.
If Republicans retain both the House and Senate, then the current trajectory will continue with more conservative policies being put in place.
3. The Issues
Depending on how the House and Senate swing, policies on important issues could vary greatly.
Immigration: If the Democrats come to power, they could start to move on re-establishing DACA. If the Republicans stay in power, they will continue to implement their zero-tolerance policies and begin to crack down on sanctuary cities.
Judicial Appointments: As of right now, Trump has set the record for the most circuit court judges confirmed in a president’s first year. If the Republicans stay in power, they will most likely continue to approve the President’s appointments. If the Democrats are gain control, they will pump the brakes on the appointment train.
4. The Local Level
This election matters on a state level as well and could have direct impacts on where you live. Redistricting will happen in 2020, so who you vote into office now will affect how districts are drawn later. A lot of states are also taking policies into their own hands and out of the federal government’s. Debates on gun policies, abortion, healthcare and LGBTQIA+ rights are sure to be happening in state governments after this election. Who ends up in your state offices will determine how these discussions go.
Still not convinced? Here’s a video of former president Barack Obama addressing the most common explanations for not voting: https://youtu.be/YGJoizYE4Js
In the end, what matters most is that you take your future into your own hands and vote for what you believe. Republican, Democrat, Green, Socialist, Libertarian – whatever you believe, vote on it, so that you are represented in your government.