In 2018, Voting Is More Important Than Ever

Editor’s note: The following is an opinion article. The opinions presented are the writer’s own and are not representative of the Trailblazer newspaper staff or Pascack Hills High School.

Photo by Jared Mitovich.

Photo by Jared Mitovich.

Jared Mitovich, Editor-in-Chief

Voting: it’s the right all Americans over 18 are guaranteed. It embodies what our country was founded to be: a nation of people, for the people, by the people. And in 2018, it’s never been more important.

Considering the current state of the union, we are at a crossroads in American history. Nothing that occurs in the news surprises anyone anymore. Did the President praise a confederate general? Yes, he did. But we’ve become so acclimatized to today’s harsh political climate that it’s normal. It shouldn’t be.

A political candidate should not have ads depicting lynching, threatening to “stomp all over” an opponent’s face, or likening anyone to Hitler. Nevertheless, campaign ads this year have done just that and more. Instead of explaining how they would solve problems, candidates have resorted to name-calling and trash-talking their opponents.

The only way we can move past this troubled time is to vote out candidates who embody these qualities. On November 6th, we should vote for candidates who favor our interests and our country, not one party or the other. This begins at the top of the political hierarchy.

“This year’s election has a lot to do with Trump,” sophomore Stephen Schmidt said. “People have very strong opinions about him, and those opinions are going to be seen in the candidates they vote for. Likewise, this year’s candidates are basing their campaigns around their love or hate for Trump.”

Despite the midterms not deciding President Trump’s status, they will make or break the rest of his term. If Democrats take control of the House or Senate, they have vowed to fight against the president’s ideas –– which may include investigating recently sworn-in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. For Republicans, that idea is a bit worrying. Nevertheless, Trump has come to represent a low point in the history of the presidency to voters on either side. This is gravitating them to vote for certain candidates, and it is definitely a reason to head to the polls this November.

In addition, the 2018 midterms come on the heels of some of the biggest political controversies in recent history.

This past July, the administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy ensued a crisis after photos and audio clips of child detention centers made headlines nationwide. The policy was denounced by those on either side of the aisle –– as it should have been. Families being separated at the border and children being placed in cells should not have been a partisan issue. Still, though, several dozen children remain without their parents despite promises made by the Department of Homeland Security to reunite the families they tore apart.  

As we crawl further and further from the deadline created to accomplish just that –– July 26 –– it is becoming obvious the department cares little about these children.

Voting in this year’s election could decide their future and the future of thousands of immigrants crossing the border. For example, Texas senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is promising to “end the militarization of our immigration enforcement system” and “close private immigration prisons and detention centers that profit from locking up families” if elected. He also wants to pass the DREAM act, “modernize the visa system”, and “reform our immigration laws”.

In the era of Trump, though, children getting locked up is just one of the ferocious political storms that has swept through Washington, D.C. When President Trump nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, his confirmation gradually became engulfed in serious sexual assault allegations. On September 27th, millions of Americans tuned in to watch Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her voice shaking, she gruesomely described being sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge in the summer of 1982.

Sophomore Caity Parkes said that “Dr. Ford’s testimony divided a lot of people, but it was an important moment in our country’s history. It says a lot about the Me Too movement and how we should listen to women’s stories. It also happened not that long before the midterms, so it will probably play into the number of people who vote and who they vote for.”

From the immigration horrors, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, and other recent controversies, it is clear why voting is so important this year. People should vote because the issues at stake affect large percentages of the population. They divide a lot of people, and the passion for each cause is tremendous. The 2018 midterms are a referendum on the presidency, gun control, immigration, police brutality, sexual assault, freedom of the press, and so much more. These issues have increased and decreased in publicity throughout the years, but several events in 2018 have led all of them to climax. At the hands of President Trump and his Republican army, a lot of things are at stake.

The imposing importance of this year’s midterms aside, voting is a fundamental right that should never be taken for granted. In a time where millions worldwide are being oppressed by their government, we need to make sure our democracy is not undermined. Both Democrats and Republicans should feel emboldened to vote this November. This determination can occur for different reasons in each person, but it is something that connects all Americans to a common goal. Unfortunately, this goal is being threatened by the possibility of low voter turnout.

Several polls have shown that millennials favor Democrats over Republicans. However, less than half say they will definitely vote in the midterms (NBC News). This is troubling news, especially considering that voter turnout will play a key role in the outcome of this year’s election. Taylor Swift took to Instagram just last week in order to convince her American fans to vote. Her attempts successful, voter registration spiked in the following days –– especially in her home state of Tennessee.

“I think celebrities’ influence will play a bigger role in the election this year,” 10th grader Simmie Brisman commented, “but they’re definitely not going to drastically change results. They might influence voter turnout, and that can make some races lean towards one side or the other. It depends.”

Brisman has a point. On one side, there is Taylor Swift, who encouraged her fans to vote Democratic. There’s also Kanye West, who is persuading black Republicans to vote through his friendship with the president. Forgetting Taylor Swift and Kanye West’s tumultuous relationship, both realize the momentum of this year’s election despite their opposing sides.

In the past year, celebrities and politicians alike have not taken their position for granted. Come November 6th, neither should we as American citizens.