U.S Midterm Elections: A Test Of Democracy

Nov 4, 2018 By Deepa Gopal
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It feels like the U.S had just gotten through a wild election cycle that gave Donald Trump the presidency. And the country is gearing up once again for the midterm elections. 

The U.S does not elect a president in this election. But one could argue that this election is just as crucial and determines the fate of the country over the next two years.

So, what exactly are the midterms and why are they important?

What Are Midterm Elections?

The U.S holds Presidential elections every four years. However, elections for State Governors, members of Congress and local city officials take place every two years. When an election takes place in the middle of the President's four-year term, it is known as Midterm Elections.

All 435 seats in the U.S House of Representatives (referred to as the House) will be voted on this year. In fact, members of the House are elected every two years because they are meant to reflect the public's mood. By voting in their representatives, citizens can shift the balance of power if they are not satisfied with the President's performance over the previous two years. 

However, only 35 (out of 100) Senate seats are up for election. Why? This is because a Senator serves for six years before he (or she) has to stand for re-election.   

The Governors of 36 states will also be chosen at this time. Besides electing individuals, midterm elections give citizens an opportunity to vote on policies in their state - such as an clean energy, legalizing marijuana, expanding healthcare, funding to build local infrastructures (like bridges and schools) and more. 

Why Are Midterms Important? The midterm elections determine who will make up the Legislative Branch or Congress. Whoever wins these elections will be able to swing Congress to either majority Republican or majority Democrat, the two main parties in the U.S. The results will determine what types of laws are passed, which bills are vetoed, and the relationship with the President. 

The Threats To Democracy

We all know that not everyone will agree to everything. We see it in our families and among our friends too. The founding fathers understood human nature and created processes by which citizens and their representatives discuss and debate on issues. They expected that in the end, elected officials will keep the good of the country in their mind in passing laws. 

However, unfortunately, the U.S is perhaps in one of the most divisive moments in its history. The differences can be seen in social media interactions, how people vote, and how Congress passes laws. President Trump has also used the power of social media to spread fear and anger, and divide people. Anyone who does not agree has been labeled as fake news.

It is this kind of division that has led to hate crimes in the country. Last week, eleven people were slain in a synagogue in Pittsburgh by a man who hated Jewish people. The week before, a Florida man sent bomb packages to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden,  Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan, and others. The packages were intercepted and no one was hurt. 

A divided country can choose to come out stronger or weaker. The 2018 midterm elections and what happens after will decide the course of the United States. 

Source: Washington Post, usa.gov