Chances are high that the midterm elections have been covered in almost every newspaper and magazine throughout the course of this autumn season. There’s a reason why. Congressional elections that are held in the middle of a president’s term are essentially referendum on the president’s politics and there’s a distinct history of these elections not reflecting lightly on those policies. In fact, only twice has the sitting president’s party gained more seats in the midterm elections.
But why is that?
Surely if a president is elected through the democratic system, voters are likely to be satisfied with their policies and will want to continue to vote in that party. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most voters suffer from apathy, and think that their vote doesn’t matter (link to your article here, Jo). They believe that the presidential election is the most important and that therefore it doesn’t matter who is elected in Congress. Other voters are angry. They are the disenfranchised part of the population whose party was not elected to the presidency and they vote accordingly.
Here are some notable midterm elections:
1938: After campaigning for the New Deal, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt hoped to gain seats for his party, the Democrats. War loomed in Europe, and the American economy was just beginning to raise its head from the Great Depression. However, his pleas for support were ignored and the Republicans gained 81 seats, taking the majority
1974: In the wake of President Nixon’s resignation, President Gerald Ford was in office during the midterms of 1974, granting Nixon a pardon that September as the country was going through an energy crisis. In total, the Republicans lost 63 seats in Congress.
1994: President Bill Clinton lost heavily in his first midterm election as the Republicans campaigned for the Contract for America. The Democrats lost 60 seats in total in both the House and Senate. Keep in mind that his affair and subsequent impeachment took place in 1995 and had nothing to do with this first midterm loss.
2002: This midterm election was an exceptional year, completely bucking the trend of midterm losses. After the impact of September 11, President George Bush and the Republicans swept through the polls, winning ten seats in total.
2010: After his first two years in office, President Barack Obama received a referenda for his actions at the polls, and in his own words, it was a “shellacking.” In total, the Democrats lost 69 seats in the House and Senate.
2018: This year, we don’t yet know the outcome of the midterm elections and each side is convinced that their party will sweep the polls. History can tell us that it is likely that the Democrats will gain seats in Congress if more angry voters come to the polls than satisfied voters. However, this presidency has been anything but ordinary. Hopefully, we can rely on history to give us a better picture of what is to come.
“My vote doesn’t actually matter,” is a phrase we hear far too often in the United States, a place where voting and truly having a voice is not merely a right, but a privilege. When questioned about this statement generic responses can be everything, ranging from, “one vote won’t make a difference,” to “I really don’t care,” or worse yet, “what happens in politics won’t impact me.”
That is all wrong.
Generally, only enthused voters go to the polls for midterm elections. Midterm elections historically have a low turnout because it is commonly thought of as a vote for your party, however, in reality, there is a lot at stake. Here’s are some of the reasons:
Your vote is how you get to begin to be the change you want to see in the world (or your country, your state, your city, your community, or in YOUR home). Start that wave, vote for what you believe in, as it is the initial step to creating the future you want. The right to vote is not set in stone, it is a privilege and by voting, you are actively choosing to take part in your country’s history and developing the world that you yourself want to live in. It is our duty to vote —and to elect people whose voices stand for ours!
The US Budget is one of the most talked about and least understood parts of how the American government functions. And it’s no surprise; budgeting is difficult and complex. Imagine your own personal budgeting process and multiply it times 300 million. The number of actors needed for that can’t just be one person, which means the sole power doesn’t directly go to the President.
The Constitution actually ascribes the vague “power of the purse” to Congress. In other words, Congress has the ability to collect taxes, to create taxes and to borrow money. However, as the founders found in many cases, the details of that process remain unclear. Consequently, the process has evolved with our government.Now, there are a series of federal agencies whose sole purposes are to create the budget. They include the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Government Accountability Office (GOA) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Every year, Congress goes through the appropriation process and passes a series of appropriation and authorization bills. Appropriation bills state how much money is allocated to a particular department. Authorization bills actually give the government permission to spend that money.
The Five Steps in the Federal Budget Process
If the budget is not complete by October 1 and it rarely is, then Congress must pass Continuing Resolutions so that federal agencies can still receive funding while negotiations are ongoing. You might remember 2013 where the government shut down. Those were situations when an agreement was not reached and funding was shut off to federal agencies. In fact, Congress has only passed all twelve regular appropriation bills four times between 1977-2012. If Congress can’t decide on twelve separate appropriations bills, they can also pass an omnibus bill - one bill that encompasses twelve funding areas.
Here at Sub-Stances, we’re going to be diving into what makes up the budget, how the funds are redistributed and providing some transparency to the budget process itself. The budget is an important process and one that many Americans only have a surface understanding of. Over the next few months, we’ll be breaking down each segment of the budget and bringing everything into layman’s language. Look forward to deep dives on defense, energy, social security and many more!
Last week, h̶i̶s̶t̶o̶r̶y̶ herstory was made.
The United States watched an esteemed, scholarly, accomplished woman come forward to reveal and to relive the trauma that she suffered when she was fifteen years old. We witnessed a survivor of sexual assault recount her trauma, in front of not just the entire nation, but before some of the most powerful, predominantly male individuals in the country, knowing that most already stated their support of her alleged attacker. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward, willingly amidst the risk and the spotlight it put her and her family through, to inform the Senate Judiciary Committee about their nominee to the highest court, who would hold a lifetime appointment. It is worth noting that she has received death threats and had to move out of her house. As if she hadn’t suffered enough, now her family, her home and even her work have been affected.
The Republican senators wisely chose a female prosecutor to question Dr. Ford, in their place – as a group of entitled white men questioning a sexual assault victim certainly didn’t offer the best optics.
Dr. Ford calmly and coherently answered the prosecutor’s and senators’ questions, to the best of her ability for four hours. Her testimony packed so much palpable, potency that had FOX News acknowledging such. More importantly, there was a 147% increase in the amount of calls to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
There was a break and then it was SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh’s turn to speak.
His lengthy, bombastic, accusatory opening statement indicated that this session certainly was going to differ from Dr. Ford’s. Judge Kavanaugh’s answers to the senators were ambiguous at best. He often disregarded the question and instead took the opportunity to filibuster the allotted 5 minutes per senator, with long-winded answers or one-upmanship statements. The biggest takeaways from his testimony were 1) his refusal to call for an FBI investigation himself and 2) his surprising, irate, erratic and partisan temperament. Kavanaugh all by himself, revealed his true character during this hearing and it is the author’s opinion that it is one not worthy of holding a lifelong appointment in the highest ranking court in the United States.
The Senate Judiciary Committee adjourned in the evening with the vote scheduled for the next morning at 9:30 am EST.
9:30 came and went. The vote was pushed until 1:30 pm. 1:30 arrived and nothing was happening. 1:35 and there was some movement. Senator Flake went over to Senator Coons to meet outside. They returned shortly later with an announcement by Senator Flake. He declared his concern surrounding the allegations and called for a one-week delay in the vote. He asked for the FBI to conduct an investigation that would be narrow and limited in scope. Almost immediately after, the session ended as is Senate policy to conclude at 2.
Perhaps it was the momentum of #MeToo Movement, the fear of repeating the past mistakes of the Anita Hill hearings, or the sexual assault victims coming forward in support of Dr. Ford. Maybe it was the constant busy phone lines, the full mail inboxes of senators, the numerous protestors, or simply the call to do the right thing. Regardless, it was a very pleasant surprise to see that there are those in office who place country over party.
Not even a week later, the FBI has concluded its investigation and report. However, there is only one copy and it is not available to the public. So, the nation continues to watch the senators’ reactions to the FBI report, for clues and guidance regarding the nature and contents of the report. Ideally, the contents or specific documents, such as Mark Judge’s statements, will be declassified; however, it is unlikely especially before the vote that is scheduled for this Saturday, October 6.
As the nation watches this confirmation process unfold, I will say that it, is at the very least, incredibly disconcerting that accusations of sexual assault only bare consequences in the Hollywood and media industries. Those holding the highest political power seem to be immune to severe consequences of such horrendous, grotesque acts. But senators beware - November IS coming. As the phrase goes, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Well, we passed scorned long ago. We American women, the majority, will see you at the voting booths.
And to Dr. Ford, thank you a thousand times over for your inspiring, courage to come forward. You bore the weight of all us on your shoulders and I can only wish you could feel our gratitude, love and support for your admirable bravery. We stand with you as we stand with all victims and survivors. You are our champion.
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