Editorial: Midterm elections offer opportunity for increased political engagement


Photo credit: Alex Wild

The California Capitol building stands as a physical representation of the power of state-level politics. The Editorial Board encourages students to use the midterm elections as an opportunity to become more politically aware. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

With the 2018 midterm elections rapidly approaching, it’s easy to feel disconnected from politics if, like the majority of Archer students, you are unable to vote. Watching the rest of Generation Z preparing to make meaningful change in society can be inspiring, but it can also be incredibly frustrating for those of us who still feel powerless.

However, the midterm elections don’t have to be a reminder of all of the ways young people can’t influence politics — instead, we can use them as an opportunity to educate ourselves about political issues. Voter turnout is still tragically low, with only about 36 percent of eligible voters turning out for 2014 midterm elections, so we, as a generation, need to embrace our civic duty to become aware of what’s going on and actively work to change it.

Adolescent years are a time in which teenagers discover themselves through exploration of their passions, relationships and personality. If we can develop a robust political consciousness along with other tenets of our identity, we will lay the foundation for an adult life spent knowledgeably participating in democratic society.

An infographic lists ways to get involved in the midterm elections, regardless of voting eligibility. Infographic created by Anna Brodsky.

The first step in making political change is to understand the nuance of each issue, and the only viable way to do this is to consume news from a variety of sources. With the advent of the digital age, information is more prevalent than ever, so we have a duty to distinguish the credibility of sources in relation to our own biases.

Additionally, it’s important to recognize the importance of voting and civic engagement at a national, state and local level. Though Archer girls were certainly passionate about the presidential candidates for the 2016 election, we’ve noticed that the same intensity doesn’t necessarily translate to the midterm elections. However, the midterms provide citizens with an opportunity to not only vote on congressional candidates, but to elect local and state-level candidates and, in California, vote directly on propositions. The people we elect and the propositions we vote on all have the potential to impact our daily lives, so we have a responsibility — not only to our nation but to ourselves — to make our voices heard.

Our generation is already taking steps in the right direction. The share of 18- to 29-year-old voters who say they will definitely vote has jumped from 26 percent in the run-up to the last midterm election to 40 percent this fall. Major driving issues include curbing gun violence and reducing college debt and healthcare costs. This marks a definite improvement, but 40 percent voter turnout is still far from ideal.

It’s up to us, the next generation of voters, to raise this figure and, along with it, the standard of democracy in our country. It’s time to realize that not voting is an active, not passive, decision — a decision to let someone else speak for you.

Archer has taught us to use our voices, to empower each other, to lead and to follow our passions. We hope that each and every community member will view the midterm elections as an opportunity to recognize our collective potential to shape our nation.