Richard Kann is a fourth-year journalism and telecommunications major and writes “Yankee Fist” for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
Every four years, people tend to go all out for the presidential election.
I mean, why wouldn’t they? This race decides the future of the entire country.
No matter what party you vote for, I would personally bet those who voted did so because they wanted their voice to be heard and elect someone who represents them,or at the very least, to make sure the “other guy” doesn’t win.
While we tend to get fired up to demand change, we also tend to undervalue one of the most prominent moments to create that change — midterms.
I almost forgot the midterm election was coming up soon. In fact, I didn’t even know they existed until I was 18. When I asked one of my high school civics teachers what exactly midterms were, they described them as “kind of useless, honestly I’m not even sure why we have them.”
There’s a pretty strong stigma around midterms, with Americans historically viewing them as unimportant compared to the presidential elections. During this time, roughly one third of eligible voters who participated in the presidential election don’t return for midterms.
However, the idea that they are unimportant couldn’t be further from the truth.
While each party has hosted some astounding victories in the 21st century, those victories would not have been possible if Americans did not go out and vote during midterms.
In 2018, according to AP news, former President Donald Trump lost the House majority and multiple Republican seats in the Senate. This set him up for his eventual defeat in 2020 and prompted the rise of multiple, influential Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
In 2014, according to AP news, former President Barack Obama suffered a historic loss in the Senate and the House of Representatives, losing nine seats in the Senate and 13 in the House, which gave Republicans the influence they needed to take both the House, the Senate and the White House in 2016. This also led to Obama’s Supreme Court judge candidate, Merrick Garland, not even getting a hearing. What could’ve been Garland’s seat was later filled by Neil Gorsuch by former President Trump.
It doesn’t matter if the party is Republican or Democrat, the fact is midterms have been and still are crucial to each party advancing their policies.
These elections are so influential because they determine the future of two groups that typically get stuck under the President’s shadow: the House and the Senate.
These government bodies are some of the most influential individuals in the president’s decision-making and political actions.
During former President Trump’s term, the Democratic-controlled House was able to repeal his controversial travel ban which would’ve restricted immigration from Middle Eastern countries, according to AP.
During President Joe Biden’s current term, Republican Senators were able to block his controversial Build Back Better Act, according to AP, which aimed to create welfare and social programs that many Republican voters felt were “unnecessary” and “too expensive.”
Securing the presidency isn’t enough for either political party to shift the direction of the country. They need the support of the House and the Senate, and every four years, in between presidential elections on Nov. 8, the seats of these government bodies are up for grabs. It’s up for the voters to decide if they’re for or against the current administration.
This isn’t a throwaway election to tithe people over before the presidential one. What this presents is an opportunity for every American to take action as they see fit.
You may not feel all that powerful, coloring in a circle next to the name of your preferred candidate, while in the voting booth. But in that voting booth, you are powerful. You and all the millions of Americans voting alongside you are powerful.
While it may be politicians who sit in the White House, it’s you who gets to decide if they’re going to keep their jobs for another term. In that voting booth Nov. 8, you have the power to change or preserve the direction of the country. No matter what the news is blasting, no matter what people say, no matter what politicians promise or threaten, they can’t take away the power you have as you cast your vote.
The only person that can stop you from making a change in your country is you.
I think that’s both empowering and depressing. That serves as an example of just how much power and influence we as the American people hold, but it also shows how unwilling we can be to use that power.
According to Fair Vote, an estimated 60 percent of eligible voters turn out for the presidential election, while only 40 percent of voters show up for the midterm elections. A Pew Research study found there was a record turnout of around 66 percent. In Australia, the voter turnout tends to be around 90 percent. In European countries like Austria, Sweden and Italy, around 80 percent of people vote every election year.
What’s even more depressing, more Americans are able to vote now more than ever. In Indiana, you can vote both during the absentee period between Oct. 12 and Nov. 7 or on Election Day. That’s right, you can go out and vote right now!
This should be especially important for college students who are passionate about the issues of gun rights, abortion rights and voter’s rights.
This year, the state passed legislation that made it legal to carry a handgun without a permit, made mail-in absentee ballots available for seniors 65 and older and right now, Indiana is currently juggling an abortion ban that’s in legal suspension.
As college students, all of these things will affect us, and it’s up to us to decide how. Usually, the voter turnout for college students has been lower than other age groups. But in recent years, this has turned around. In 2018, 52 percent of eligible, college-age voters showed up to cast their vote. Then in 2020 that jumped to 66 percent. It is time for us to make our voices heard in another crucial election.
Don’t blow the 2022 midterms off as some throw-away election. You have the necessary resources to make a change, and this is your chance to use them.
Contact Richard Kann with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RichardKann.