Divided Nation Approaches Midterm Election

There’s no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.

[Cynthia M. Lardner | Oped Column Syndication]


The world previously looked to the presidents of the United States for stability and guidance, though things appears to be different under Donald Trump, who has divided the nation successfully like no presidents could do before. In this divided atmosphere, it is time for the Americans to turn their attention to the midterm elections.

Americans are angry

The recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh strongly impacted voter intentions, with 59 percent feeling more motivated to vote, and  a nebulous two percent stating that they were less motivated to vote or perhaps just overall apathetic.

According to the recent Reuters IPSOS poll, the Democrats are most angered by the separation of families at the border. The ‘right to parent’ is a protected Liberty interest under the United States Constitution. The Republicans are angry as they are fearful of the potential Democrats’ majority – something that could result in the impeachment of President Trump.

Elections belong to the people

If someone is unhappy with the Trump Administration, he or she can help eliminate the Republican Congressional majority, breathing life back into the system of checks and balances contemplated by the founding fathers of the nation.

Americans’ vote in the midterm election will have an immediate impact on the United States’ coming role not just domestically, but also geopolitically.

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters,” stated President Abraham Lincoln.

Democrats need to take control

For change to occur, the Democrats need to take control of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In the Senate race, Democrats currently hold 49 seats. There are only eight Republicans seats up for re-election. The Democrats must hold on to all of their current seats and win two from the Republicans to take control the Senate. The decisive races are being held in ten states: West Virginia, North Dakota, Missouri, Montana, Indiana, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas.

Democrats need to gain a net 24 seats to take control of the House.  A Washington Post/Schar School poll, published on October 23, found that in, 63 seats out of the 69 of the country’s most contested House races are currently held by the Republicans. Presently, 50 percent of the voters are voting the Democrats, with a very close 47 percent supporting Republican.

How Voters Think

The author of this article, Cynthia Lardner, conducted a small random survey[1] of individuals from around the world in order to better understand how voters think. Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and President Barack Obama were cited most frequently for their strong and enduring leadership.

The traits inspiring respect were sound methodology, integrity, empathy for social order, ability to communicate and care beyond one’s own borders, clarity, transparency and honesty. These leaders are thought to be collaborative, passionate and compassionate, with a low or no preference to violence.

Going forward the desirable traits were essentially the same with the addition of strong negotiator who is cognizant of the rights and needs of all people, and the necessity to address climate change.

In terms of the impact of globalization, one additional trait was cited:  the ability to properly use social media.

Voting for a Qualified Candidate

There was uniform concurrence that one must exercise the privilege of voting.  Research has shown that people who make plan in advance are more likely to vote. Preparing to vote, regardless of age, is essential to responsibly discharging this privilege.

The most important step is sifting through information to determine what is factual and to identify the candidates best representing your interests.

The responses highlighted the difficulties caused by a plethora of fake news, and bemoaning the deluge of sources, concluding that it’s all but impossible to sort out the different positions, let alone distinguish between fact and fiction. The solution triggered a variety of responses with an emphasis on engagement and discussion at the local, school, religious, civic organization and family levels.

Reality Mirrors the Research

A comprehensive research project mirroring the respondents from the author’s survey was conducted by Amsterdam University.

The study concluded, “First, fairness is generally seen as a key dimension of ethical leadership. Fairness is described as being fair, trustworthy and honest. In other words, ethical leaders treat others with respect, do not have favorites, and make fair choices. Secondly, ethical leaders provide subordinates with voice, listen to their input, and allow them to share in decision-making on issues that concern their tasks or dimension power sharing. Thirdly, ethical leaders work transparently, clarify expectations, and communicate openly so that followers understand what is desired and expected of them, which is labeled role clarification.”

Another study cited the following traits as essential:

  • Proactive vs. Reactive;
  • The exceptional leader is always thinking three steps ahead;
  • Quiet confidence; and
  • Be certain of oneself; and
  • Humble intentions.
The Practicalities

In most states, voter registrations may already have taken place. There are a few exceptions, however, such as Washington, North Carolina, or one of the 16 states along with the District of Columbia that permits Election Day registration.  North Dakota has no voter registration; just bring an ID to the polls.

In the United States, hoping to develop the civic duty of voting, a majority of states have authorized voter registration at the high school level. Thirty-eight states or 78% have a high school voter registration program in place in their jurisdiction, with the programs in 16 states or 33% based on state law.

On these last two points, youth at or close to voting age are creating the national demonstrations having discovered the impact that political decisions can have on their own life.  For instance, there have been mass and frequent protests organized by high-schools-goers demanding gun control despite the heavy arm that’s been flexed for decades by the National Rifle Society.

With African American populations ranging from 25 percent to nearly 60 percent of southern state populations, they have the power to upset an election. But the historical prejudices have found ways to play themselves out in today’s elections. Claiming that requiring a government ID before voting deters election fraud, 20 states have passed laws that make it difficult for many interested black voters to cast their votes. The cost is subtle:  obtaining a government ID means connecting with traditionally prejudicial state agencies, acquiring birth certificates and, for many, taking time off from their works.

For these reasons several federal and state courts have overturned such laws in some states, including Georgia, North Carolina and North Dakota. The author of this article hopes that the black American leaders, especially influential religious leaders, empower and mobilize their congregations with the same vigor seen in the high schools.

Local Elections

There are countless state and local official elections being held at the midterm. The most important official that you elect at this level is the lower state court judges.  They are the judges who hear divorces, traffic tickets, small claims, criminal misdemeanors and so on.

In other words, the one official in your lifetime that you are likely going to have to personally contact with is your local judge.  Once seated local judges reign like demigods who are unlikely to be unseated no matter how incompetent, as most voters prefer to vote blindly for the incumbent. This is one local official post on which one need to do so some real research before casting the vote.

The Bottom Line

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV…,” opined David Foster Wallace, an American writer and university instructor in the disciplines of English and creative writing.

He went on saying, “By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”


[1] There were ten questions:

  • What former leader(s) do you find most inspirational and why?
  • What are three traits that this former leader best exemplified?
  • Going forward, what three traits do you believe necessary to be considered a global leader?
  • How has globalization impacted the skill set necessary to be a global leader?
  • Name one or two traits that are counterintuitive to global leadership.
  • How important is it for individuals to exercise their right to vote?
  • Do you think that voters are given the information necessary to make an informed decision? If not, what can be done to more properly present facts on the issues involved in an election?
  • Do you think that educational systems are doing enough to prepare young voters?
  • What resource do you recommend for obtaining accurate information and a candidate?
  • What advice, if any, would you like to share with my readers?

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist residing in the Netherlands and is a contributing editor to Tuck Magazine and the International Policy Digest. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.


 

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