By: Casey Pratt – Oct. 2018
According to the Pew Research Center, since 1948 voter turnout during presidential elections has been around 10% higher than the turnout at midterm elections. But why?
In the end, the answer is publicity. The presidential election is currently televised in a way similar to a sporting event; it’s a competition against two teams. It’s an easy, black-and-white event that gives people a feeling of unity that they’re searching for, and gives them an easy “other” to target.
People put up signs, wear their team’s colors and merchandise, and even bet on which side will win.
The midterm elections are not as exciting. It’s not televised nationally, there’s not the same sense of urgency, no one is talking about them on SNL; it feels like Congress doesn’t matter.
According to a poll done by The Boston Globe, out of 1,000 people, only 33% of people could name one or more of the senators representing their state. Comparatively, when people get amnesia in movies and TV shows, one of the most popular questions to ask to see how aware they are is, “Who is the president?”
Despite what people seem to believe, the president is not the only person in power in the government. Although historical figures such as Andrew Jackson may like to think so, presidents are not all powerful. Nor can they make any impactful differences in a community, unless the problem is also national.
Congress, however, usually can, or at the least state representatives will respond to letters of complaint in a relatively timely manner. Congress also has a lot of power over the president.
Checks and balances is a system in place in our government, where the electoral branch, or the president, cannot make any drastic changes to our national systems without the other branches, judicial and legislative, agreeing to carry out that change.
The midterm elections are the chance that parties have to take control of the Legislative Branch, and despite them going largely ignored, The Constitution claims the Legislative Branch is the most important of the three.
The Founding Fathers gave them the most power of the three branches because they were concerned the office of President could become tyrannical, and believed that Congress could stop that from happening.
The Legislative Branch creates the laws that run America, and the President cannot force them to create new laws, nor can he create new laws on his own.
They are also able to impeach the President, and any of the Supreme Court Judges. They have the power to override judicial decisions by creating new laws, and they can propose amendments to add to The Constitution if they feel it is necessary.
The midterm elections are an important political event, and should not be quadrennially ignored by more than two thirds of the country. People should make educated votes when they have the opportunity to, whether or not they think their vote will matter, because what if it does? If they want to keep their party in power or shift the party influence, they need to vote in the midterm elections.
Congress may be slow to pass laws, disinteresting, and in the same desperate need of a change in faces as the rest of politics, but that does not negate their crucial role in the inner workings of the country.
Casey Pratt is a painter and photographer, and a bit of an adrenaline junkie. She also excels in English, and hopes to have a career photojournalist. Contact Casey on her Instagram, @acuriousteen