How to Make a Difference With Your Vote in the Midterm Elections

This November’s midterm elections are proving to be the cause of one of the most contentious campaign seasons we’ve ever seen. Since the election of President Trump in 2016, voters on both sides of the aisle are mobilizing to defend or change issues largely important to them. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs, and while this is an awesome thing, there’s also a lot at stake. According to projection polls, several of the state elections for representatives are so close, making voting in this election all the more pertinent. We may even have the opportunity to flip the control of House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic majority, so here are a few super important platform topics that candidates are debating, and more information on each so you hit the polls fully educated in November.

The federal minimum wage is arguably one of the most important platform topics, as it is going to effect economy––meaning everyone. Many progressives support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as it would increase household spending and directly begin fighting issues caused by poverty. According to the Pew Research Center, the federal minimum actually peaked in 1968 when adjusted to current day inflation. It would have been the equivalent of $8.68, meaning that the minimum wage at $7.35 an hour today has much less buying power than it did 50 years ago. However, many against raising minimum wage cite the fact that unemployment might rise as wages for employers to also adjust to this fluctuation.

Another hugely important issue that’s causing massive tension between both candidates and eligible voters alike is the issue of women’s reproductive rights––and gender equality on the whole. With the news cycle having been dominated by the Hollywood co-opted #MeToo movement throughout the last few years, we’re starting to see those at the top who’ve abused their power to commit acts of sexual harassment being held accountable. Accountability has trickled through the government as well, with the Democrats holding Senator Al Franken accountable for his actions, and the party continues to support their decision. These scandals of abuse have continually rocked the Republican White House, and continue to cause disdain towards the party as a whole.

The issue of abortion is also causing contempt towards Republicans, as this almost always falls along party lines. Conservatives often vote against expanding healthcare for women, like abortions and birth control, citing religious freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. This issue, however, is multi-faceted because we also have the issue of a free seat on the Supreme Court, risking the possible overturn of Roe V. Wade––the case that legalized abortion in the United States. If the House is flipped from Republican to Democrat, there’s a good chance they might have an opportunity to stop that because women deserve the choice and autonomy concerning their lives. Having said that, the sexual abuse scandal surrounding the current president’s choice judge to fill that seat has been able to stave off the risk of the Senate taking a vote to confirm him to SCOTUS, but unless there is a hearing, the outcome of that situation has yet to be determined.

While there are several platform topics that are circulating in our political discourse, the last major issue that affects truly everyone is gun control. Schools, movie theaters, night clubs and music festivals are all locations of recent mass shootings, leaving many progressives feeling the issue lies in the control and distribution of guns. This right is guaranteed to citizens in the Constitution, but if you take into account the fact that this document was written 200+ years ago, our Forefathers definitely did not intend for that protection to include automatic assault rifles with the capacity to kill dozens of people in minutes. Progressives are fighting for stricter and more common sense gun laws––including background checks and waiting periods for those who want to buy guns. The issue of mental health is often brought up in this conversation as well because several of the mass shooters reportedly mentally unfit, but were still able to get a gun.

Voting is the single most important institution to upholding our democracy, and this issues continue to divide our society. You can find out how to register in your state if you already aren’t on––plug in your address and get local instructions. It’s just that easy to make an informed contribution to society.