Bearing News

Upcoming midterm elections spark calls to vote

MiShonda Traver at a polling education office on Nov. 2. Photo by Bailey Stover

Columbia politics heats after visit from president


Since the election of 2016, republicans controlled Congress with a majority of seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The upcoming November midterm, however, could change the landscape of Congress with all 435 seats in the House and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate challenged.

Democratic candidate Renee Hoagenson is seeking for the United States House in the 4th district of Missouri to turn the tables at Washington. She emphasized the significance of the midterm and hopes to motivate young people to get involved.

“I think it’s never been more important than now,” Hoagenson said. “We can see that our Congress is gridlocked; they’ve dug their heels in and they won’t work cross party. We need to get [some people] out of congress, and so we work together again.”

Another big race in Missouri is democratic senator Claire Mccaskill challenged by republican candidate Josh Hawley: a race heated by streams of Youtube political campaigns, high school interns canvassing neighborhoods, to the president of the United States, Donald Trump, visiting Columbia, Missouri yesterday.

Senior Blake Jones stared in amazement at the president of the United States standing just a strip of people away. He stood amidst a loud and energetic crowd waving posters and whooping after each slogan and statement. Afterwards, Jones said he felt inspired to vote.

“Going to the Trump rally influenced my vote by him telling us how important our vote is in this election.” Jones said. “We need Josh Hawley to win.”

Other students, such as junior Kanchan Hans, felt differently after attending the rally and hopes Missouri will vote a different way this midterm.

“[I felt unsafe] just knowing that there are thousands of people in the vicinity that may want to harm me for being a brown, immigrant woman,” Hans said.

Hoagenson said regardless of belief or difference in opinion, change starts at the voter.

“The future our country and the future of democracy depends on as many people actively engaged as possible,” Hoagenson said. “In particular young people because you’re the future and the future belongs to you.”

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Countdown to Midterm

Minorities voice mindsets on midterm election

On Nov. 6, eligible voters will take to the polls to cast their vote for the midterm elections, which will decide which candidates will fill the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate. With over 235 million eligible voters in the United States, polls should be packed to their bursting points during presidential and midterm elections. Still, FairVote.org said 60 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots during presidential election years, and only 40 percent participate during midterm elections.

Still, voters, regardless of their political affiliation, cast their vote in the hopes of ensuring their candidate’s victory. For bricklayer Gilberto Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen born in Cuba, he believes the every election is important because of the power his opinion can have on its outcome.

“My vote is my voice. I believe that. That if I don’t vote and if somebody that I didn’t want to represent me, then I can’t say nothing about it because I didn’t take the time to go and vote,” Rodriguez said. “So my voice is my vote. I mean, my vote is my voice.”

As a minority in America, Rodriguez acknowledges that many people like him either do not have the availability in their schedules to take time off from work to vote or they do not have the means to get a polling site. He votes to impact change in his community and the nation as a whole and remembers to keep the issues close to his heart in his mind when he votes.

“[An important issue] to me, probably would be immigration laws and all maybe,” Rodriguez said. “Not so much relaxed, but I believe that if you want to come to this country, I came legally, you should come here legally. Not just cross the border and say, ‘Well, I’m here.’ ‘Cause my tax dollars pays for a lot of those benefits people receive. So, I wouldn’t trade the United States for any other country in the world.”

Economic disparities are another frustrating factor for Rodriguez when he thinks about the candidates he has to choose from in the Chicago, Il governor’s race. He said some people become disheartened with the state of the nation because they feel their voice does not matter. Wen Rodriguez first arrived in the United States, he said his father raised a family of five on 140 dollars a week. While Rodriguez believes he makes “good money,” he does not believe there is equal pay for women or minorities and hopes to use his vote in the midterm elections to elect public servants who will fight for equal rights and equal pay.

Are you planning on voting in the upcoming midterm election?

Emilee Johnson

Yes. It’s incredibly important to make my voice heard, and I don’t like the direction the country’s going.”

Anderson Asalie

No. I’m not American Just because I can’t vote doesn’t mean I view America any less.”

Jermaine Hendrickson

I do, ‘cause it’s critical. I have kids and that’s part of their future that I’m trying to set out for them. This election, next election, all elections [matter].”

Patrick Shane

Absolutely, because I am very happy with the way the economy’s going and I want to keep it going.”

“A lot of people get discouraged because, you know, they see that either the rich get richer and then there is no middle class, to me there is no middle class,” Rodriguez said. “Even though I’m supposed to be a middle class, I don’t believe there’s a middle class anymore. It’s just upper echelon and here and here and there is no middle. There is no middle, not anymore.”

Minority voices, regardless of who they come from, are demanding to be heard this midterm election. Ivy Walker, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Helios Digital Learning, said she would not miss an opportunity to vote because of her civic responsibility to vote. As an African American, Walker said her ancestors fought for her right to vote so she does not take that right for granted.

“I think [voting is] important, but particularly for minorities it’s extremely important as the issues directly affect us all, and our voices need to be counted and heard,” Walker said. “For a long time, because there’s such power in voting, we were denied that right to the point where even when it became legal we got stupid tests that absolutely nobody could pass that prevented us from voting.”

When she was in high school, Walker said, she was taught in her civics class how democracy functions and the importance of voting. For her daughter, however, Walker said such a course was never offered. Because of this, Walker took it upon herself to understand how government and society work and what role an individual can play in creating change.

“I’ve always told my daughter it’s not my job to teach her what to think but to teach her how to think,” Walker said .And I have focused with her on critical thinking skills, on being able listen to what someone says or read what’s written in the newspaper and get to the heart of, ‘What does that person really think? What are they trying to influence you about?’ and then decide for herself how she feels about a particular issue. I also encourage her to look at both sides of the story.”

Because Walker is not a single issue voter, she takes into account the character of the individual running for office, her own issues and values and what the candidates’ histories and policies were prior to the election. In the upcoming election, Walker hopes to see more candidates elected who are willing to enforce a system of checks and balances relating to every facet of the government and the free press.

“[The midterm election is] really important this year because we have a lot of chaos taking place in our government. We have a lot of red herrings being thrown at us to really distract from what’s happening, and I think it’s important that we begin to exercise some really checks and balances in this current government. I think that what we’re seeing right now is a Congress that is not prepared to stand up to the White House, and I think that’s a problem.”

While Verizon employee Pam Marr was born and raised in Chicago, she, too, considers herself to be a minority. Because she will be flying to Hawaii on Nov. 6, Marr voted on Oct. 31 because she believes a person’s right to vote is “too important to pass up.” As a middle management worker, Marr said voting allows her to bring her voice and experiences to the table for conversation.

“You have a right to be there because you’re determining how your community and your government is run, and if you have a problem with that and you didn’t vote, I just think that, shame on you. When there is a vote in an election, I respect the outcome and I get behind the candidates best I can,” Marr said. “I might not be completely happy with them, but I’ll try to get behind them because that’s what the majority picked.”

While she values and respects her right to vote, Marr was inconvenienced by it because she had to take a “work at home” day to cast her ballot. Still, highly concerned with fiscal issues, Marr wanted to make her voice count in the midterms.

“Just because a candidate has a great heart and a great belief, I’m not so sure that they’re the right candidate. I’m also against life, like, career politicians as well. I think that sometimes a candidate should have some corporate background or some, maybe, entrepreneurial background or philanthropist background to be a good candidate,” Marr said. “I also think that attornies tend to have a great command of law, which is helpful in being a good politician. I also think there’s some people that are not politicians but do a great service for the community.”

Through her work with ethics through Helios Digital Learning, Walker said many of her views are influenced by her understanding of what is ethical and how she rationalizes her beliefs. She also focuses on what drives her decisions and how she is able to critically consider her own emotions when making rational choices, such as casting her vote in an election. As an African American woman, Walker believes her voice must be contributed to the conversation so she can create change that is beneficial to herself, her family and her country.

“It’s because minority votes can swing elections that the powers that be that want to keep the status quo as the way that is would rather that we don’t vote,” Walker said. “So I absolutely, positively would always exercise my right to vote.”

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