The midterms are finally upon us. This oft forgotten election has been thrust onto center stage this year in what we’re being told is the “most important election of our lifetime.” Again. Regardless of party affiliations, everyone seems to be swept up in the hysteria that this election, in particular, is the stand-alone case in deciding the future of the nation. Forget all those other elections where we narrowly avoided the country imploding by electing the “correct” candidate (or didn’t, depending on your preference); this time they mean it. All jokes aside, the level of severity people believe these midterms to hold means it warrants an honest, level-headed discussion regarding the facts. With that in mind, I feel it necessary to point out that, no, this is not the most important election of our lifetime. Allow me to explain why and what that means for soon-to-be voters next week.
Let’s start with a point that is easily agreed upon for just about everyone: politicians lie. A lot. I know that may seem obvious, but it bears repeating when we consider the short memory of voters and their tendency to “miss the forest for the trees” anytime things get emotionally-charged; which is to say, every election. For example, I’m aware that, in the age of Trump, people on the left are told that Republicans will legislate people out of existence so to speak; kick millions of people off their health insurance; all while deporting millions of people and flaring up prejudicial tendencies against millions more who remain. If they aren’t voted out of office by a moral, upstanding “resistance” first. Republicans on the other hand, are told that Democrats will allow an “invasion” to run roughshod over the southern border, take back the tax cuts passed last year, and transform the US into a full-blown socialist hellscape after they impeach Donald Trump, all of which is just one vote away if you choose to stay home next week.
The truth, as it turns out, is much less melodramatic. If we are to believe all these things will take place, it would logically follow that we ought to currently be living in a country with a massive border wall (that Mexico paid for, of course) with fantastic health plans brought about by the repeal of the ACA (which wouldn’t have been necessary, since Obama let us keep all those doctors we were so fond of), and a military neatly contained inside its own borders (and certainly not dropping more bombs than ever before). As is painfully obvious though, that is not the country we live in and the facts are quite telling. Deportations as an overall number are actually lower than in previous years, the ACA is still around (if you’re into that sort of thing), and our military is still pushing toward its 21st century manifest destiny; although at this point that’s unlikely to change regardless of which of the two major parties is in office.
While it’s understandable to be upset that “your guy” didn’t live up to the promises they said on the campaign trail, that isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. Considering that fear motivates people more than dry statistics, politicians are prone to ditching the facts in favor of evermore heated rhetoric to draw out their respective bases. Luckily, the American political foundation took this into account and looked at gridlock as a characteristic of the system so that “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition” as Madison wrote in Federalist 51. It’s important to remember that, especially when both sides seem fearful of one side running away with authority yielded against the others’ will. Republicans losing the majority in Congress will likely result in none of the threats from Democrats coming into fruition. An impeachment will be for political clout, much like the Republicans did when they voted to repeal Obamacare more than a dozen times while they knew Obama would veto it, only to fall short of the votes once Trump was in office. Likewise, I wouldn’t count on any legitimate border wall funding being approved anytime soon even if Republicans hold onto the House and Senate.
The reason I tell you this isn’t to talk you into voting for a third party or out of voting altogether. The reason these facts matter is because the one thing that does seem to be unprecedented in this election is the chasm we’re allowing ourselves to believe divides us along party lines, and that’s neither true nor beneficial to either side. Not only has the heated rhetoric allowed more voters to become uninformed on issues than ever before, but it’s caused more voters to be positively misinformed that what their side is telling them is the absolute truth. Combatting that is more important than who wins next week’s midterms, that I assure you.
So, let’s all take a deep breath, perhaps put down the social media for a little while, and let’s recognize that this election isn’t a “vote for your life”, “vote or die”, or any other inflammatory scenario you’re being told. By all means, vote for who you think may represent you and your ideas, but don’t allow yourself to vote out of fear, especially fear from a tired line that’s as old as the political process itself. Because if nothing else, realize that, no, this is not the most important election of our lifetime.
Thomas J. Eckert
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