EDITORIAL: What are you going to do Nov. 8?
It’s essential to vote for president along with other local offices
Amidst the raucous of the long-anticipated presidential election, let us remember that the president is not the be-all and end-all of American elections and politics. A single person may be vested with immense political power and decision-making responsibility, but that power can be attenuated or enhanced by other components of this complex governing system. After all, the executive branch is only one out of three federal branches, and lest we forget, the combined power of the judicial and legislative forces can do enough to hamper the intentions of the presidency. Regardless of whether a competent or incompetent leader will take the Oval Office, the president can’t get anything done without help from the rest of the government.
So if you’re dissatisfied with the presidential candidates or approve of the presidential candidates and want them to have enough political support to get things done (those two categories should encompass everyone), it cannot be stressed enough that you need to vote for seats in Congress and state and local offices.
Polls have shown the extent of American dissatisfaction with government operations. About 75 percent of all U.S. adults express discontent with federal leadership, according to a CNN/ORC survey conducted December 2015, while 69 percent are at least “somewhat angry” with the country’s direction. Such disgust with the way government functions — the polarity, the lack of cooperation, the squandering of tax-payer money to implement frivolous policies, the lack of attention to issues the public truly cares about — calls for new people in power and new representatives at all levels of government, beyond the Oval Office.
Myopic and excessive focus is given to the presidency, while a total of 469 seats in U.S. Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election Nov. 8 and people do not know about it. There are not Senate elections in New Jersey just yet, but 12 House of Representative positions are being contested. Additionally, voting on Nov. 8 allows you to vote for local mayors and school board positions that can make direct and immediate changes in your community.
The magnitude of having 469 seats —the possibility to significantly change the dynamics of an influential political institution — is almost unfathomable for most of the public. Even more probably do not pay attention to local politics in their community. But to the defense of those people who do not vote, the rampant gerrymandering of districts sometimes means the outcome is predetermined and people feel as if their votes do not matter. Despite this, voting is still a civic duty and changing this system requires finding a way to put qualified people in appropriate positions to implement well-needed policies. One of the key ways to do this, or arguably the only way to do this, is by voting.
Millennials, especially college students, have formidable political influence, but they do not realize their potential. Millennials are now as large of a political force as Baby Boomers according to U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center. A NPR article refers to this as mere potential, not actual political clout, because millennials do not actually use this power (i.e. they do not vote).
However, the only way the system can work for us is if we put trust into the system. There are understandable reasons for why that trust has been displaced, but transforming the current state of our society, addressing imminent issues and going forward to make progress requires cooperation. The government is an institution as well as a platform for deliberation and finding common ground between citizens who hold diverse political interests. The government is flawed in various respects, but that does not mean we should give up on it. An indispensable method to improve and address these flaws is to head to your nearest voting booth and also give attention to candidates beyond the presidency.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff