Midterm elections are undeniably underrated. Historically, voter turnout for off-years sticks at around 40%, compared to 60% in the Presidential cycles. Thankfully, this year, people are paying attention. Over the summer, a significant number of people rushed to vote in the primaries.

There’s a lot going on in politics and there’s so much we need to care about. Ever since Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement and Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s messy confirmation hearings have proceeded, we’ve been getting more and more worried about losing the ability to enact progressive change and protect our values and rights.

Our state government is meant to protect us. State laws and statutes are just as important as national legislation. If we want progressive legislation quickly passed on a national level, the best place to start is at the state level. For this to happen, we need to pay more attention to our State Representatives.

That’s why, this election cycle, riding the blue wave is crucial. If you want increased gun control, environmental preservation, the ability to get an abortion, or whatever progressive change you want to see, you need to vote blue. As of now, the Democrats’ platform covers all of these issues. If these candidates win the election, I have no doubt change will arise soon.

However, the real importance of voting blue isn’t the policies but the politics. In our current political system, the members of the majority party in the House of Representatives choose the Speaker of the House (the leader of their own party). For example, if Republicans have the majority in the House, the Representatives will choose a Republican Speaker of the House (and vice versa). The Speaker gets to decide when and which are presented to the House. This is an extremely powerful position. It specifically allows the party in control to decide which bills they want to hear and vote on.

What does this mean for us? Say we want to have sensible gun control legislation passed. If the Republicans control the house, there will be no gun control legislation. The Speaker, most likely, won’t even consider it. Even if your Representative promises to try to draw up the bill or supports sensible gun legislation, regardless of party, it’ll get swept under the rug.

This occurred with the State Representative of my district. He ran as a moderate Republican, trying to tie together the liberal and conservative demographics of my city. He supports gun control, he wants to give student loan relief to college graduates, and he supports strengthening our education system.

If our government ran on anything but partisan politics, I would have supported him, even though I’m a very liberal person. It’s important to represent your constituents’ interests and work across the aisle to achieve them. Anyone can accomplish this, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum.

However, the bigger problem happens when you go along with whatever your party dictates, which my Representative did. He said he supported sensible gun control, yet, he voted for a Representative with an A+ rating from the NRA for Speaker of the House. All the bills he said he would pass weren’t prioritized by his speaker, they were buried under miles of other bills and saved for the last few months of the Congressional session.

It’s not that I have a problem with moderate Representatives like this, it’s that they don’t really have power in the Trump-controlled House. I want to see progressive legislation passed; I don’t want to wait around for change to happen. If we want to make the future a more free and safe environment, we need to take action now.

This is why it’s more important than ever to vote blue. If you really value progress, if you want gun control and environmental preservation, if you want to keep your right to an abortion, you need to vote blue. Flipping the legislative branch is the only way to preserve the progress we made during the Obama administration.

The midterm elections are in six weeks. If we want to move forward, we need to show up and vote.

Photo: Jay Phagan

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