I’ll be honest. This is the first time I’ll have voted in a midterm election. I didn’t know it was called a “midterm” election, hadn’t even wondered why it’s called the “midterm” election, and didn’t ever care about any of it. I’m not particularly proud of that, but there is it.
Since my political awakening, I’ve filled in a lot of the gaps and more.
It’s called the “midterm” election because it’s the election that falls in the middle of the president’s four-year term in office. We vote on all of the members of the House of Representatives (two-year term) and about one third of the members of the Senate (six-year term).
Why is this election so important, especially for a president? Because depending on the voice of the people, his political party might lose the majority in the House and/or the Senate. The president, any president, wants his political party to maintain the majority. It’s so much easier to push your political agenda when you’re not battling Congress. And fellow members of Congress have an interest in who holds the majority because they are either working with or against the president.
During almost every presidency in recent history, the number of seats held in Congress by the president’s party tends to decrease, especially if the president has particularly low approval ratings or if the economy is doing poorly.
What is most interesting to me, now that I’m paying attention, is that I see every little thing in the news and current events being used to sway our vote. Attention is given to the issues that matter most and politicians either create or stoke the flames. It’s no surprise that the immigration issue has resurfaced, being one of those issues that has proven to keep people divided and upset.
But I’m curious how it will actually play out this time.
During Obama’s midterm election the Tea Party movement emerged, helping mobilize conservatives who were not only recovering from the loss of the presidential race, but were upset by several bills passed within the first half of Obama’s first term. They resembled my son’s response to getting elbowed in the face by his older sister. Time to hit back harder.
The Democrats and their supporters at that same time, on the other hand, were feeling like things were going well. A lot of work had been done and efforts made to achieve such success and momentum was slowing down. A lot less energy and excitement surrounded their candidates. Their messages of, “See what we did!” brought a lot of joy and happiness, but most people simply said, “That’s great,” before going back to the countless other things that matter in life.
This midterm election, however, feels different. Both sides appear to be mobilized, energized, and out to win. The Trump administration has followed the pattern of our last president, creating wins for his own political party while upsetting the opposition. We might expect a similar outcome for this midterm election as well. Except that Trump is still actively riling up his supporters to take action and stay involved. A recent news article said that President Trump turned down the positive “look at what we’ve accomplished” sort of advertisement, favoring a controversial immigration ad instead. Pats on the back keep people at home. Immigration reminds supporters that there are still battles to be fought.
But it can work both ways. Midterm elections usually don’t attract many voters and voter participation has been historically low. With early voting and mail-in ballots already counted (though no results reported), we’re already seeing an unusually high number of votes cast. Personally, regardless of who wins, I think that’s awesome.
Now I’ve got to get to the county clerk’s office in the morning to vote again because I forgot to put my ballot in envelop #1 before putting it in envelop #2….
*sigh. I’ll figure this whole thing out eventually.