I have been an avid follower of US politics for quite some time now, and over the years, I have noticed a worrying trend in our political system. There is a tendency for a majority of the population to focus on the presidential elections and virtually ignore state and local elections.
This is very worrying.
I realize that the presidential elections are more interesting. There is extensive media coverage, there are memes, and in this election, we have an unpredictable demagogue to amuse ourselves with. I get it. But I urge everyone to take a deeper look at Obama’s presidency and take it into consideration. Over the span of his presidency, Congress has blocked a majority of bills that Obama has sponsored; including the Political Ad Disclosure Bill, the DREAM Act, Wall Street Reform, and Benefits for Homeless Veterans. Think of how beneficial these would be if they passed. And what Obama did manage to get through Congress, namely the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have vowed to repeal.
It would be a different story if a majority of our population voted for who is in heavily Republican Congress today, but voter turnout for the 2014 midterm election was only 36.4 percent. Think about it. Not even up to half of the American people voted in the last congressional elections. This is deplorable. Democracy cannot and will not function as it should if we don’t play our part and participate.
I see a lot of people express how dissatisfied they are with the status quo. They complain about policies they don’t like and scoff at the standstill in Congress. I almost always agree with their concerns, but I wonder what they expect to happen when they don’t go out and make their voices heard? Don’t like your tax dollars being spent on practices that harm the environment? Vote for someone who agrees with you on this. Want more cooperation in Congress? Vote for someone who holds bipartisanship in high esteem. As President Obama put it at the Democratic National Convention, “Don’t boo, vote!”
A lot of people say that we need to elect Hillary into office because she is the best person in this election cycle to carry out progressive policies. I wholeheartedly agree, but I also realize that if we don’t also elect a more balanced Congress, what is happening with Obama will also happen with her. Progressive Supreme Court nominees will be rejected along with policies that will improve the lives of so many Americans.
In this election cycle especially, we can not stop at the presidential elections. 88 percent of Congress is up for grabs. The new Supreme Court Justice will be in office for the next thirty or so years. There is a lot at stake. The passion that I have seen in Bernie’s, Hillary’s, and even Jill Stein’s campaigns need to be carried over into local elections. Play your part in democracy. Get out and vote!