In every generation, there is a social, environmental, or political issue that shapes how that period in time will be remembered. I believe we are living in the most politically volatile period our country will ever face, which is why getting out to the polls this year is of utmost importance. These five reasons will explain why voting in this midterm election should matter to you more than ever.
We don’t live in a dictatorship
Despite some of the behavior we’ve seen from our current administration, the president cannot rule by himself. The midterm election has the potential to change the power of politics in Congress. For the past three elections, the party in the White House lost seats in both the Senate and the House. The President and Congress must work together to pass and change laws. The people in those seats make a big difference.
The POTUS does however have significant influence, and a few irrefutable powers that give the office lasting impact. Responsibilities like declaring war and Supreme Court nominations, will have lasting impacts on the country for generations.
Your livelihood depends on it
The White House and Congress set the direction for the entire country, but many federal laws are implemented state by state. More than 30 states will elect their next governor during this midterm election.
Gubernatorial races determine who runs your state government. Issues like the minimum wage, the public health care plan, and rules regarding government pensions will be administered. The party with political power in your state will determine how you are able to make a living and live your life.
Local elections have more impact on your day to day
Here’s where it gets personal. Earlier this year, my family and I were pulled over by the Pennsylvania State Police on the way to New York. We got caught in a speed trap late at night. Our encounter was less than pleasant and frankly quite frightening.
We were held on the side of the road for 45 minutes. We were asked intrusive and offensive questions. We were told we had committed a crime in addition to the speeding, and had our trunk searched. In the end, all they could do was give us a speeding ticket.
Even though I don’t live in Pennsylvania, the people of Erie County elected the leaders of the State Police Department who refused to take my complaint.
Are you mad yet?
In your local elections, you choose who will be in charge of the police, the public school system, and the courts. Local elections also include judge races. Where do you want someone who will represent your interest and uphold your rights more than in a court of law?
In 2016, Louisville Judge Olu Stevens made national news for dismissing a jury because it was comprised of only white jurors. Stevens, an African-American male, felt that the jury did not represent the defendant’s peers, and instructed the attorneys to try again. Many in the black community applauded his efforts, but there were many others who opposed him. Now he’s a judge that people who often fear the criminal justice system look to with reverence and respect, and their votes made it happen.
Your vote really does make a difference
Remember the “hanging chads” fiasco of the 2000 Presidential election? If not, allow me to fill you in. Vice President Al Gore was running against the Texas Governor, George W. Bush. The presidency rested on the outcome in the state of Florida, where the difference was less than 2000 votes the morning after the election.
Inline with Florida State law, an automatic recount began, which reduced the difference to approximately 300 votes. Vice President Gore was then allowed to choose four counties for a manual recount. That meant the board of elections was going to manually count each ballot card.
Challenges arose when the ballot cards didn’t appear to be completely punched all the way through begging the question which vote was actually cast. In the end, the recount was squashed and Dubya won the election.
What’s my point? You have more than 300 Facebook friends. If you all vote, you could determine the difference in outcome in some races that are very close.
You don’t need anyone to tell you what to do
From Kanye, to Taylor Swift, to T.I., more celebrities are jumping in the conversation about voting in the November election. Even though I was down with Diddy and his Vote Or Die movement, I proudly rock my Delta VOTE pin each election, and support my husband and the Alpha’s “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People” program. At the end of the day, I don’t really need anyone to tell me what to do and neither do you.
Inform yourself about the issues that matter most to you, learn about the candidates and their platforms, check to make sure your voter registration is intact, and go make a difference!