by John Zielinski
There have been a number of talking heads who’ve claimed that this year’s midterm elections are a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency. Their reasoning is that what happens with regard to the makeup of Congress reflects how the population feels about Mr. Trump and his agenda. The entire House of Representatives is up for election. So are 33 seats in the Senate. If both houses of Congress are taken by the Democrats (a possibility, though not a probability), that provides a firebreak against Trump’s infantile impetuousness. If Congress remains in the pocket of the Republicans and continues to provide a rubber-stamp to Trump, that demonstrates that a majority of Americans believe in Trump’s agenda. I disagree. I contend that the 2018 midterms are a referendum on whether Americans care about the future of their country and its supposedly democratic electoral process.
History demonstrates that US midterm elections have pitiful turnouts. While, on average, 60% of registered voters actually vote during presidential election years (hardly something to crow about), for midterms since 1972 that number floats around 40%. In 2014 it was only about 36%. That is genuinely pathetic any way that one looks at it.
According to the most recent (as I write this) Gallup poll, Congressional approval is at 16%. This is consistent with the numbers from August, 2018. That’s almost as low as in July 2016, when the approval rating hit only 13%. (Worth noting is that Republicans controlled both houses of Congress at that time as they do now.) It seems that the Republican-driven agenda isn’t exactly making the general population happy.
As the midterms approached in 2014 I wrote a piece in which I said, “These are strange days. A vast majority of Americans disapprove of the work that Congress is doing. On the other hand, that same majority appears unwilling to do anything to change Congress.” Let’s not make the same mistake again, shall we?
The last time that the Congressional approval rating was above 50% was in April 2003. Think about that. George W. Bush was president. Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Now, Trump has an overall approval rating of about 40% and his toadies control both houses of Congress, but have an approval rating of less than 20%. These people are running the show. What’s wrong with this picture and how does it get fixed?
If the American electorate isn’t willing to make their voices heard in a major way this time around, then I need to conclude that they just don’t give a damn about the future of this country. (Feel free to replace “damn” with something else if you’d like.) They fail to believe that their votes matter (although they do). They fail to believe that they can make a difference (although they can).
The official date of the midterm elections is November 6, 2018. Some states allow early voting. (In Illinois that started on September 27, 2018.) This year’s midterms are a referendum on Trump and on whether the people of the United States care enough about their future to actively participate in creating it. While I’d like to see you vote for certain candidates, what I’d mostly like to see is that you get out and vote. Let’s hear what the majority of the electorate has to say.
The future is too important to be left in the hands of a minority. There is no excuse for that.