You’ve graduated college and now, you’re officially a full-fledged adult. Do you know what comes along with that? A responsibility to do your civic duty and make sure your voice is heard.
Of course, if you’re like a lot of new post-grads, you’re probably not planning to vote anyway, according to the Census Bureau. In the historic 2016 election, only 46% of voters aged 18-29 participated. Compare that to voters aged 65+, who flocked to the polls to the tune of 71%.
Millennials rival the Baby Boomers in terms of political clout, at 31% of the electorate, but our generation is simply not showing up to the polls. Then we go on social media, rail against what we see as injustices, and wonder why nothing ever changes.
Do you know how you can work to make sure that Congress represents your views, not those of a generation born over half a century ago?
By voting in this and every election.
Voter registration closes in many states on Tuesday, so if you’re still not registered, get out and do it! In some states, you can even register online; check here to see if your state is one of them. It doesn’t get any easier than that, y’all!
Regardless of who you are, you should always vote in an election, even if it’s the “lowly” midterms. Here are just a few reasons why:
The entire House is up for re-election
Every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election this year (and every two years, by the way). While the Senate tends to get more of the spotlight, there’s still some power to be found in the House, namely:
- Originate revenue bills
- Any revenue bill (i.e. taxes or tariffs) must originate in the House. Concerned about your taxes or paying more for your favorite goods because of tariffs? Then vote in this election.
- Must approve any treaty involving foreign trade
- Along with the Senate, the House must approve any treating involving foreign trade. Like the newly-revised NAFTA, which was recently agreed-upon by Canada, Mexico, and the US. Trump and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts are expected to sign the deal soon, but it won’t be official until it gets ratified by both of their governments and Congress next year. So, if you’re affected by this potential new treaty–and everyone is, by the way–then make sure that your opinion is represented by voting.
- Must approve appointments to VP (along with Senate)
- Also along with the Senate, the House approves any appointments to the office of Vice President. Of course, this isn’t typically something that would happen, since the VP is on the same ticket as the president and voted upon by the public. However, crazier things have happened, so it’s an important power to keep in mind.
- Speaker of the House is second-in-line to the presidency
- Imagine something happens that removes both the President and VP. Who’s going to be running the country? The Speaker of the House. That office currently belongs to Paul Ryan, but since he’s announced an early retirement, there will be a new Speaker for the next Congressional session. If you have an opinion on who should, or should not, hold this important position, then I suggest you vote this year.
- Impeachment of federal officials (must also be tried by Senate)
- In the case of impeachment of a federal official, the House essentially acts as the prosecutor, in charge of making the case for why said official should be removed from office.
35 Senators Are Up For Re-Election
If you live in any of the below states, you’ll also be voting for a senator on November 6th. One of the most visible campaigns playing out on the national stage is that of Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.
Why does the Senate matter so much? Well, there’s lots of reasons, aside from the fact that you’re more likely to see their name in the news:
- Confirmation of many federal officials (i.e. federal judges, diplomats, and Cabinet officials)
- Do you have strong feelings about a certain confirmation hearing go on right now? Or any of the previously-confirmed federal officials? Then I suggest that if you have a Senator up for re-election in your state, you should head to the polls on Nov. 6th.
- Sole power to conduct impeachment trials
- While the House acts as the prosecutor in these trials, the Senate acts as judge and jury.
- Approval of treaties
- Any treaty involving the U.S. must be ratified by the Senate, while the House only gets involved with trade treaties.
Numerous Local Issues
Along with the House and Senate seats that are up for grabs, there are sure to be several local and state-specific issues appearing on your ballot. In Louisville, we’re also voting for our judges and many other local officials in November.
So, even if you still don’t think that who’s in Congress makes a difference in your life, you should still vote for your local government officials if you want to change anything in your area.
If You Don’t Vote, You Can’t Complain
Didn’t vote? Then, quite frankly, you don’t have the right to complain. Even if there’s not a shot in Hell that your candidate would have won, at least you took action.
For those of you who might be thinking, “Well, all the candidates suck,” you have two options: one, get involved in politics, even on a local level, and work to find and support candidates who don’t “suck”; or two, vote for the lesser of two evils.
Either way, if you simply choose not to vote, I better not see any posts on Facebook from you complaining about how every decision Congress makes is horrible and you think they’re all horrible people.
Millennials Are Dedicated To Their Beliefs
Let me end with this: I don’t believe my generation is completely apathetic. In fact, I’m convinced that with the rise of social media and the spotlight it’s shown on many social issues, we’re fiercely dedicated to our beliefs.
It’s no secret that younger consumers are willing to put their money where their mouth is, literally. Organic food, sustainable clothing, and cruelty-free makeup anyone? These are products that tend to cost more than their non-organic-sustainable-cruelty-free counterparts, but our generation pays to support products and companies that align with our values.
So, here’s my suggestion: instead of only being a crusader on social media and at the store, go out and do that same thing in your government. Yeah, researching candidates and choosing the one that you most agree with might be harder than making a Facebook post or patronizing a different shop, but it’s worth it. There are so many issues facing our country today.
Let your voice be heard.
Do you want to vote, but don’t think you have the time or a way to the polls? See if your state offers early voting and look into ordering a Lyft or Uber for 50% off or even free, depending on where you live.