By Jamel V. Vanderburg, MPA
Election Day is days away, and it is not difficult to realize the importance of the midterm elections. Not only will we know whether Republicans will regain the House and/or Senate, the fate of 36 Gubernatorial races, and a slew of state and local elections, but we the people will have a better idea of where America’s soul is and where we are heading for the future.
It is no surprise of the multitude of issues plaguing our country currently. With rising inflation, gas prices out of control, crime, immigration concerns, infrastructure, and communities in peril because of many of these concerns, there are moments when it may seem that America is at the brink and cannot come back. There are those who feel their vote doesn’t matter, does not count, and will not make a difference. Some feel that being engaged or involved civically is a waste of time. I ask you to look at the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Look at the continued inequality in healthcare among communities of color. Look at the fact that it has become difficult for people to meet their basic needs. President Biden recently signed a bill providing student loan relief to millions of Americans. However, as of this writing, a federal court has overturned the mandate, leaving in limbo a piece of the financial future of many whose only goal was to better themselves academically to move closer towards achieving the American Dream. If you believe there is no longer a need to vote or be engaged, I invite you to stop reading right here.
Regardless of political ideologies and beliefs, we have a government and elected officials who do not put the interests of their constituents first. Many are interested in being re-elected and satisfying the needs of those who financially back candidates and their campaigns. This article is to serve as a reminder that many of these issues need to be reassessed to be beneficial and effective to those living in 2022. We also need to reassess how we are choosing our elected officials and being involved in the political process through civic engagement.
The biggest concern going into the midterm elections is the source behind each of these issues. America’s voice is not being heard, and there is a feeling that many are falling asleep at the wheel of what is happening in America. The issues listed above are of great priority, but our voice and our votes are on the ballot for this midterm election. The very facet of democracy is on the line. Our power to exercise our right to vote makes us the first line of policy makers in this country. If you do not feel that your vote is enough, get engaged and involved in an important cause. Unfortunately, voting and civic engagement have been determined by colors and not causes and commitment to make the country better.
It is time to break the barriers of oppression in our communities and be creative catalysts to be at the forefront of policy changes that will better our local, state and federal standings. If we do not realize that our country needs our vote and voice, we may not ever wake up from the American Dream and we may live in a permanent nightmare of the consequences of our inactions and not holding our elected officials accountable. Nobody said the fight would be easy. In fact, it feels like just as one issue is being solved, another pops up. That does not mean that our feet need to be taken off the gas, but it is up to us to continue the work and not let our voices be silenced. That starts with our vote and our voices at the forefront of causes most important to us.
Jamel V. Vanderburg is a Ph.D. student, Public Policy and Social Change at Union Institute and University.