Why You Need to Care About the Midterms

Right now, the Senate is moving to vote on a bill that, in theory, could help protect women from the impacts of the Hobby Lobby decision.

Let me explain: the Hobby Lobby ruling wasn’t based primarily on the Constitution, but on another law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Because RFRA was created by Congress, it can be changed by Congress, and the Senate Democrats would like to do just that: amend RFRA so that it can’t be used by corporations, thereby protecting not only women’s reproductive choices, but the rights of LGBT employees who are already being discriminated against by companies on the grounds of religious belief.

The reality is that Senate Democrats are probably not going to win this vote-~-even if they succeed in the Senate, it likely won’t make it through the Republican-controlled House.  You might be wondering, then, why they’re even bothering to move on this bill at all, and the answer is this: voting on this bill means that every single Senator and Representative will have a vote, on record, about women’s health and its politicization.

A major concern of the Democratic Party, and its supporters, has been that of voter turnout.  Across demographics and party lines, Americans turn out to vote in higher numbers during presidential elections than any other year-~-and this, it appears, is especially true for Democratic voters.  Some believe that when there is higher turnout, demographics naturally favor the Democrats, but that’s not necessarily true.  The reality is that turnout matters only if people are ready to demand something from their government: the passage of a policy that is voted on directly, the continuation of a representative they like, or the replacement of an official they don’t like.

Generally speaking, midterm electorates are older and often whiter.  A large portion of the Democratic electorate is comprised of minorities, lower-income individuals, and young people, who often stay home without the hype of a presidential election to draw them to the polls.  It’s easier to care when there are televised primaries and debates, and an election is on the news all the time…but this just isn’t true during the midterms.  There are too many races to follow for the mainstream media to follow it all, and as a result, fewer people show up.

There are only a few possible solutions.  Parties can use Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaigns including canvassing, Rock the Vote events, etc.  They can spend money on ad buys to generate conversations or at least force people to realize that an election is actually happening.  Or they can use the media, by leveraging a major issue that their constituents care a lot about…and that appears to be exactly what the Democrats are doing with this new bill in the Senate.

If you’re reading this, I don’t personally care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.  What I am going to say is still the same.  This November, you need to vote.  Every single member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election on Novemeber 4th.  Whichever issues matter to you, whatever it is that worries you, find a candidate who will protect your interests and vote for them.  Talk to your family and friends about why you’re voting and why it matters to vote.  And it does matter.  I know that elections have become disheartening affairs.  I know that corporations have too much influence, with lobbying and donations and money being speech.  But there’s one thing that you can do that Walmart can’t, and that’s go to the polls and actually vote for the person you want to represent you.

We need change in this country, desperately.  We need a Congress that will actually govern, a Congress that will pass laws needed to make this country run, attend to its citizens’ welfare, and protect the people living here.  We need a Congress that will actually solve problems, instead of trying to impeach the president for trying to do so in their stead.  We need representatives who will acknowledge that rape is a real problem and try to address survivors’ needs, who will uphold a separation of Church and State, who will be willing to address climate change, who will actually attempt to do their jobs instead of causing the government to shut down because they can’t get their way.  Consider this:

In the two years that the democrats had the White House, the House, and the Senate, we got Wall Street reform, student loan reform, credit card reform, healthcare reform obviously, the fair pay act, expanding of the GI bill, they re-authorized the children’s health insurance program, expanded national service programs, fixed the sentencing disparity for crack versus powdered cocaine. We got the 9/11 first responders bill, we got the hate crimes act, they ratified the Start treaty between us and Russia on nuclear weapons, they repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, they did cash for clunkers, they did the stimulus which included the largest middle-class tax cuts ever. That was all done by the Congress that was elected at the same time as President Obama in 2008. They were elected in November 2008, sworn in January 2009 and over the next 2 years they got all of those things done. Then, the republicans did really well in the midterms, and republicans took control of the House for the first time in years and, John Boehner became Speaker. And since then, there has not been a single significant piece of legislation enacted into law.
—  Rachel Maddow, 9/30/13
I know that not everyone who reads this blog is a Democrat, or agrees with the Democrats.  I know that the Democrats are not perfect, that their policies often fall short of what even their supporters want, that this country has competing ideas and fiscal concerns.  But if you care about where things are going, you have to vote this November.  And if you care about women’s rights, I’d advise that you pay attention in the coming weeks…and vote for the people who are voting to look out for you.
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~ by Randi Saunders on July 16, 2014.

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