Folks, we are only 29 weeks away from the 2018 elections, and I’m starting to freak out a little. We’re not ready for this election.
I know what you’re saying: “Election? Wait, didn’t we just have an election? Why are we doing it again already?”
We did just vote, in November of last year. But this time around, it isn’t a presidential election. This November (November 6) is what is known as a midterm election. They’re called “midterms” because these are the elections that happen in the middle of a President’s term. Presidential elections happen every 4 years; midterms happen two years later.
We aren’t voting for a president this time around, but don’t think that means your vote doesn’t matter—because it does. In many ways, your vote matters even more during the midterms. In part, that’s because historically not a lot of people vote in midterm elections. That means that for those people who do vote, their vote has more impact. And this midterm election is especially important because there is so much happening in our country right now. So much is wrong, and YOU CAN FIX IT.
Maybe you are one of those people who says “Oh, I don’t know… I’m not into politics.” But if you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written, you know what I say: you may not think politics is something that matters, but it does. It matters to every single aspect of your life whether you think it does or not.
Here’s why the midterms matter: Because control of Congress is at stake. In fact, at every national election, whether the midterm election or the Presidential election, control of Congress is at stake. That’s because EVERY single seat in the US House of Representatives is up for election every two years! Did you even know that?! Every two years, every member of the House runs for re-election. If you don’t like what your Congressperson is doing, you can vote them out! Not only that, but one-third of the Senate seats are up for election too! Maybe one of the two Senators from your state is up for re-election. So with the entire House, and a third of the Senate up for grabs, if we don’t like what is going on in our country right now, we have an opportunity to change it!
What goes on in Congress is really important. You might think that the President controls everything, but don’t forget: the Presidential branch is only one of the three branches of government [Remember, they are: Executive Branch (President), Legislative Branch (Congress) and Judicial Branch (Courts)]. Congress makes the laws, controls the budget, confirms nominees, and has the power of impeachment. And Congress is much more likely to do what you want them to do if they know that people are paying attention and voting! They have been acting like idiots lately because we’ve been letting them get away with it. Sure, they see you marching and resisting, but they know that chances are when it comes right down to it you won’t vote. Well, just like a dog who starts to wander away, you need to yank on Congress’ leash a little bit to let them know who is in control.
So what’s at stake in the midterms? Well, everything: Gun reform. The Environment. Health Care. Taxes. Social Security. Education. Student Loans. Immigration policy. Women’s and Reproductive rights. Defense spending. Criminal Justice Reform. LGBTQ rights. Civil Rights. Infrastructure. Voting rights. So that covers virtually everything that impacts your life. But wait. There’s more! Why? Because lots and lots of things are decided at the state level, and states are having elections on November 6th too. Thirty-six states are holding elections for Governor. And roughly 82 percent of the total state legislative seats in the country are on the ballot! And lots and lots of state-wide ballot initiatives too.
State policies control your day-to-day lives even more than national politics do. What do states decide? Local gun laws. Debt free college. Fairer congressional districts. Legal cannabis. Health care. Reproductive rights and access to reproductive care. Criminal justice reform. All of these things start at the local level and they have a huge impact on you right where you live.
Now, since we can only vote for our own senators and representatives, if we’re going to make a difference, it’s going to take all of us working together, helping each other to get registered and reminding each other to actually vote. So we all need to be vocal and use all of the tools and networks that we have to get this done.
This is the year that the people who don’t normally turn out for elections need to turn out! That means young people. Young people are always passionate and opinionated, but for some reason they usually fail to turn that passion into action. And it means women, and average Americans. And Liberals and Progressives too. Democrats have a much worse record of turning out for midterm elections than Republicans do. That’s why Republicans keep holding on to power year after year.
Well, this year needs to be the year that all of that changes. Everyone who isn’t happy with the direction of our country needs to turn out and vote.
So, know what you need to do to register, and make sure all your friends register too. Make sure you know when early voting in your area starts so you can make your voice heard as early as possible. And don’t just talk about it: do it. This is the year you can change everything.
Say it with me now: “Midterms matter.”
Your vote is your voice.