By Sarah Jost
Earlier this week, the United States held its midterm elections for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 34 seats in the Senate, and 36 states’ governors’ offices. This was a critical election year as many predicted a Republican takeover of the House and Senate.
This turned out to be partially correct. The Republicans gained sixty seats in the House, meaning that they are now in control. However, they only gained six Senate seats, four short of taking control. In the gubernatorial races, 29 of the 36 available offices went to Republicans.
So what will this all mean? Well, it means that there will be a Republican Speaker of the House, a position that will likely be filled by John Boehner, who thinks that Americans’ Republican votes in this election mean a call to repeal Obama’s health care reform ‘monstrosity.’ In reality, exit polls showed that ‘only 18 percent said health care was the nation’s top issue’ and only ’48 percent of voters said they wanted to repeal the health care law’ while ’47 percent said they wanted to keep it the way it is or expand it.’ It will be interesting to see if voters’ true concerns will be addressed, or simply interpreted by the Republicans in a way that is convenient to their agenda.
Additionally, more conservative values will be championed through legislation. Reps. Boehner (R-OH), Cantor (R-VA), and Pence (R-IN) have never supported a single pro-equality bill. Bachmann (R-MN), who has called homosexuality a ‘dysfunction’ and ‘personal enslavement,’ was re-elected.
However, there were also some progressive victories. Carl Paladino was not elected governor of New York, nor was Christine O’Donnell elected to the Senate in Delaware. Proposition 23, which would have suspended AB 32′s provisions to cut and cap California’s greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020, was defeated.
All in all, a very interesting elections season. We of course will keep you updated as your new legislators begin their jobs. My biggest concern is that the new Republican majority in Washington will further prevent Obama from fully being able to accomplish some bigger changes. But he has worked hard thus far, and I personally have a lot of faith that he will continue on his promised path and keep changing America for the better.
And yes, he has done so. It is incredibly infuriating to hear people continuously gripe and moan that Obama hasn’t accomplished anything in the first two years of his presidency. This is gross misinformation. Thus, I am happy to provide any naysayers a link to the following informative site: What the fuck has Obama done so far?
I’ll close with a non-rhetorical question. If you didn’t vote on Tuesday, why not? In my home state of Illinois, only about 3.5 million of the state’s almost 13 million inhabitants voted. That is only about 27% of the population. In my new state of Vermont, only 37% of the population voted. A bit better, but still not ideal. Compare those numbers with Minnesota’s: in 2008 Minnesota had the highest voter turnout of any state at 77.8% of eligible voters casting their ballots. Between 2004-08, 70.2% of eligible Minnesotans cast ballots. Granted my calculations for Illinois and Vermont don’t take into account non-eligible members of the populations, but the numbers are still shocking to me. Why do people not participate in elections? And more pressingly, given the apparently low rate of civic engagement, how many of the people constantly griping and moaning about political issues haven’t even voted to either support the things they believe in or change the things they don’t?
So, as I promised, here’s a recap: The Republicans won a lot of elections this week, but not a totally shocking amount. And, I am asking that if you didn’t vote, would you possibly be so kind as to 1. please explain why not, and 2. state whether or not you think you, having not voted, still have a right to celebrate/complain if political issues do/do not coincide with your beliefs?