Vote Like Lives Depend on it

Youth voter turnout pivotal for midterms

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Darin Connolly

What made you mad in the last two years? 

Maybe it was the president saying it’s alright to violate women,  the U.S. leaving the Paris Climate Agreement or white supremacists marching on Charlottesville,  Virginia. 

What broke your heart? 

Maybe the administration putting children in internment camps, writing legislation that invalidates the lives of trans and non binary people or encouraging disproportionate police murder of Black bodies —or all of the above. 

Those lists are only a fragment of injustices oozing down from our federal government to the state, local and personal level. In its entirety, that list is also what makes this cycle of the midterm elections so unbelievably high-stakes.

But we have the power to change the course of the U.S. in November.

Midterm elections usually fall flat. On average, voter turnout for midterms is about 30 percent lower than for presidential elections. In the 2014 midterm election, voter turnout saw the lowest participation since 1942, when many eligible voters were overseas fighting in WWII. Of the lowly 36 percent of the population that voted in 2014, millennials were the smallest pool. 

Now, millennials, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as those aged 18-35, are the largest eligible voting population in the U.S. And increasing amounts of young voters lean toward progressive politics according to the Pew Research Center. But as we’ve seen millennials don’t have the best track record of putting pencil to  ballot. 

Young voters are generally dissatisfied with the politicians available to them. It’s rare for one candidate to embody the political views of a single voter — let alone an entire generation.

But every single vote counts. In 2016 the Trump regime won the electoral college vote by less than 77,000 votes. That’s far less than the undergraduate population of the whole UC and 10,000 people less than are in the entire population of the city of Santa Cruz. The difference of those few voters transported us back decades in terms of progression. 

Once the president is elected, one political party usually becomes lax while the other becomes motivated to change the House and the Senate. In fact, the reason the 2016 election was so shocking was because it broke an eight year cycle of two parties splitting the three branches of  government.

Except for the executive branch, everything is at stake in this election cycle. Every single seat for all 435 U.S. districts in the House of Representatives is up for election, and a third of the seats in the Senate are as well. Electing progressive politicians to Congress is the most effective way to halt the White House’s supremacist  legislation. 

With marches, walk-outs, rallies, social media movements and boycotts, we’ve seen action taken to fight extreme abuses of power. This action has to be taken to the polls. There is so much to vote on, so many communities to protect, so many lives that can be quite literally saved by a single vote. The young generation of voters must vote on behalf of themselves and on the behalf of those who cannot vote.

People should not have to vote out of fear, and no human should be afraid to live in their own country. But as we saw the last two years, the government as it stands is not concerned with the rights or safety of its citizens. The system is broken, and as a generation we must contribute to  its  repair.

The future of our government is exactly what the current government is afraid of. The future is intersectional; the future is Black, Brown, queer, trans, immigrant. The future is powerful — the future is young.