Midterms – Vote Is Change

Today in the United States is the Midterms, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested; along with 38 state and territorial governorships, 46 state legislatures (except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia).

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The naming of the elections as “midterm” makes it seem like is have less weight than those representatives who are elected at the same time as a President, while they are just as important.

Currently this Congress has received, at one point, an opinion rating of just 3%. This means more than 95% of Americans polled felt that their representatives were not getting on with their job.

This is an opportunity to change that, the results of this outcome can determine the laws and effectiveness of the last years of the Obama Presidency and shape the issues which will frame the elections of the next resident of the White House.

But outside of the big picture, if Americans feel that they’re local representative is not looking out for their concerns, than go vote for someone who will. Less than half of citizens who are eligible to vote in midterms turn out, this is a serious problem, because it allows those with more intense partisan and ideological views than the average voter to get in and cause some of the issues which have been causing situations such as the shutdown of the federal government.

Okay, let’s presume you don’t like any of them or feel that gerrymandering is denying a say. Not voting just supports the status-quo and takes away your voice. Americans love to go on about liberty, yes you have the right not to vote, but I doubt that freedom was won by sitting around going “meh”.

I really from an outside perspective would like to see an end to deadlock, the childish behaviour and bitter divisions. One of the world’s most important nations should get back to governing.

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mikepaws


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One Response to Midterms – Vote Is Change

  1. Lightning says:

    Midterm elections at the end of a President’s run have historically resulted in the Executive’s party losing seats, and this election would appear to be no different.

    It is worth bearing in in that the current Congress has passed an unprecedented low amount of legislation. Therefore, it is unsurprising that those Americans who pay attention to politics gave it an opinion rating of 3% – this Congress, more specifically the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, also shut down the US Government, all due to the Republican Party holding the Democratic President’s budget to ransom. They threatened to do it again, all the while blaming the governmental chaos on Democrats who did very little to refute such claims.

    The Republicans have also continuously blocked Obama’s appointments to Executive positions (recently saying they wanted to sue him for abusing Executive authority by making recess appointments), further impeding governmental progress, not to mention their previous antics in obstructing the Affordable Care Act, alongside failing to endorse even the simplest gun control legislation which polls showed a majority of the country was in favour of following such disasters as the Sandy Hook shooting.

    And why so for all of this? The American Congress is largely made up of politicians who accept donations from multitudes of companies looking to have their say in governmental process. This is a game played by both Republicans and Democrats, and one recently made much easier due to the Citizens United ruling and the further repeal of campaign finance laws by the Supreme Court.Candidates (and serving politicians) receive donations from individuals, PACs and companies, and in return they vote in line with the donator’s ideology (see recent votes turning down measures to prevent police acquiring nuclear bombs though the military equipment acquisition programme, or the lack of gun control legislation seemingly throttled by the NRA).

    In terms of the elections, often-times, it is the candidate with the most money who will do well, particularly mid-terms. If, for example, all someone sees on their TV is a single ad positively promoting one party’s candidate and negatively portraying the other (because the other side does not have adequate donations for that coverage), which way do you think it is likely their vote will tip? Mid-terms aren’t like the Presidential runs, and the money can make them far more predictable.

    Unfortunately, many Americans realise this – there is actually a movement making the rounds of various state legislature calling for a constitutional amendment limiting the influence of money in politics.

    However, it is not just money that is a limiting factor in these elections. Gerrymandering really does deny voters a say, in much the same way as the UK has safe seats – the FPTP voting system combined with a highly partisan electorate in one area makes a vote for the weaker party rather useless. Further, in many states, a great number of citizens (particularly black/hispanic neighbourhoods) are seeing their right to vote being abridged though things like the withdrawal of early voting, the introduction of ‘voter ID laws’ (saying that you must have an ID with you when you vote, a measure that denies those who cannot afford to get this), and even the shutting down of voting locations entirely (for example in universities which typical have a more left-leaning electorate).

    As such, in many cases, it is not that people actively choose not to vote – they simply can’t, and while their ‘right’ to effectively still exists, their lack of ability to use it silences their voice.

    While mid-term elections are often taken as a time for change and a referendum on the performance of the sitting President, I highly doubt this one will make much of an impact. The Obama administration was saying through it’s ’12 election campaign that the Republicans would start cooperating with them should Obama be re-elected (due to a renewed democratic mandate). That failed to materialise. As such, in this election, whether Republicans gain control of the Senate or not (though they by practically all projections will do so), it will make very little difference, and may even force Obama to continue to ‘compromise’ with the party that has done its utmost to spurn his administration.

    The problems regarding general elections and politics in the US are profound, mostly created and spurred on by questionable legal rulings and use of the system of government in a way many constitutional scholars claim was not in line with the Founding Fathers’ original intentions. There is far too much that may be discussed in one online post, and as ever politics is a very volatile and heated issue for many.

    In the end, I would say the view presented could take into account some of the widespread issues in American politics, but ultimately I agree with its gist. People participating in politics can really lead to great change, especially by the US system of government. I certainly think that people here in the UK have little excuse not to engage more with the political process. It just becomes more challenging participate when that system is misused and people find their voice is totally meaningless.

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