Be the wave

While the midterm elections may not have turned the tides in your favor, bringing about the blue or red wave the Democrats and Republicans were promising, they represented something just as important – American citizens showing up to the polls and supporting the candidates and issues they believe in.

A historic 114 million people showed up to the polls. That is 49 percent of eligible voters, according to The New York Times.

This is a significant and meaningful increase from the last midterm elections in 2014, which only brought out 83 million voters.

According to CBS, our nation hasn’t seen Americans turnout at such a high rate since the 1966 midterms.

And in these races, we’ve seen record-high turnout cause neck-and-neck races that fundamentally change our democracy.

Incumbent Senator Ted Cruz still championed over viral media favorite Beto O’Rourke. However, O’Rourke only lost by a mere 2.6 percent in a historically red state. This and many other elections may not have signified the change we wanted, but the ripple effect of this race and many others will have lasting impact.

The people of the United States have successfully elected over 100 women into positions in Congress, bringing female representation to approximately 20 percent of the 535 seats.

Not only are we trending toward a government that represents the female population of our country more equitably, but this election reached new milestones for underrepresented groups in Congress.

For the first time, we have two Native American and two Muslim women representing our country.

While Republicans gained at least two seats in Senate to hold their majority, Democrats at least gained 30 seats in the House of Representatives to snag a majority of their own. President Donald Trump will now have to appeal to both parties in order to pass any signature laws.

And with The House Intelligence Committee now under their control, Democrats have a much greater ability to investigate the Trump administration – something they have been itching to do for months.

Even if you didn’t see the exact results you hoped for, you didn’t vote in vain. But there is so much more to do.

We at The Gatepost believe the horrors of this past week – political or otherwise – should be more than enough to motivate your continued activism.

From the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions and potential attacks on the Russia investigation to the 12 people gunned down in California, the nation’s headlines should make you angry.

And amidst tragedy and division, we as activists must continue to fight.

The midterm elections were inspiring because politics entered into the mainstream consciousness. Celebrities urged their fans to get out and vote. College students asked each other where and when they were voting, not if they were voting. The “justvoted” hashtag trended across social media platforms.

As a nation, we dedicated time and attention to cultivating our democracy.

We need to sustain that enthusiasm beyond the vote.

The same fevered interest we paid to selfies with our “I Voted” stickers needs to be funneled into educating ourselves about what our elected representatives are actually doing.

A lot of people say, “You can’t complain if you didn’t vote.” Well, we voted. But we need to do a whole lot more than complain.

It is not enough to simply vote in the elected official you support, you must ensure that your voice continues to be heard. Write to your senators. Involve yourself in local politics. Keep abreast of issues locally and nationally.

The midterm election started a ripple. It’s up to us to determine if it will grow into a wave.

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