The Prospector

Good things to come from midterms

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Good things to come from midterms

Andrea Valdez-Rivas, Reporter

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The 2018 midterms are finally over. The big Blue Wave never really came, although Democrats did flip the House. Republicans, on the other hand, secured the Senate.

But something significant happened in the midterms: Texas, a state notorious for low voter turnout, saw historical turnouts this year. Also, women historically succeeded to Congress and, as the federal government becomes more divided, we will most likely be expecting a political stalemate. At least Texas won’t rank last anymore.

It started before Election Day and before the early voting period. Over 15 million Texans registered to vote before the Oct. 9 registration deadline. By that deadline, nearly 15.8 million had registered. That number is by far the largest of any during midterm election years recorded in Texas.

Then came the early voting period, from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2. Throughout those 12 days, a staggering 4,884,528 ballots were cast. On Election Day, 52.77 percent of registered voters showed to the polls this year, compared to 28.3 percent back in 2014, according to data from the Texas Office of the Secretary of State. This was a good year for Texas in terms of voter turnout.

If this continues, Texas will be on its way out of its “non-voting state” status.

In large part, this surprising surge of voter turnout is due to the much-watched Senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. Even though most of us have been a little tired of hearing about these two candidates for the past couple of years, it was their race which encouraged Texans to go out and vote. It brought out minorities, first-time voters and even the younger population, the 18-29 age group of voters, many of which leaned to the Democratic side.

In El Paso, let’s give thanks to our very own Beto O’Rourke. Before these midterms, many didn’t give a flying you know what whether they voted or not, and some wondered if their vote even mattered. But somehow O’Rourke fired up El Pasoans, Latino communities and young voters, while proving that their votes matter. It’s all shown in the numbers. He was the candidate that inspired hope in his supporters for Texas turning blue. It was a hope deeply felt among Democrats and one that hadn’t been seen in quite some time. Now, supporters hope that inspiration lasts through to 2020. But for running a campaign that took no money from PACs, it was a job well done.

The 2018 midterms also led women to historic victories.

The next Congress is expected to have a record number of women. As stated by Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics, the 115th Congress (2017-2019) held 84 women in the House of Representatives. Yet another record was set in this year’s midterms, with 97 women elected to the House with some races yet to be called.

Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico were the first Native American women elected to Congress. Davids, who identifies as lesbian, is also the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Kansas. Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar are the very first Muslim women in Congress, and in addition, Omar is the first Somali-American member.

Texas will be sending its first Hispanic woman to Congress, with El Paso’s own Democratic Veronica Escobar, who beat out Republican Rick Seeberger. She will be replacing Beto O’Rourke in the House. Houston-area Sylvia Garcia won a relinquished seat by Democratic Rep. Gene Green.

One of the most impressive was New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win. The 29-year-old became the youngest woman to be elected to Congress ever. She first impressed everyone in the Democratic primary back in June, when she upset Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley—a top leader among House Democrats—with over 75 percent of the vote. She then challenged Republican Anthony Pappas and proudly beat him.

The first female senator from Tennessee emerged this year. Republican Marsha Blackburn outlasted former Gov. Phil Bredesen. Blackburn has her share of experience, as she’s served in the U.S. House since 2003. Lastly, Republican Young Kim of California became the first Korean-American woman to serve in Congress. Indeed, it was a good year for women in politics.

The results of these midterms were pretty much what we were expecting. Democrats took control of the House but didn’t get enough votes to take over the Senate. Now that Democrats are no longer on the sidelines, it means that it will be difficult for legislation to pass Congress unless it has bipartisan support. With the House controlled by Democrats and the Senate by Republicans, not much will get done from here to 2020.

The reason why nothing gets done is considered a good thing is simply because gridlock is based on the idea that whatever Congress does or passes is considered bad and if Congress doesn’t pass anything at all, citizens will be better off. But even if citizens may not be affected much by upcoming legislation, gridlock is only temporary and it’ll be decided in upcoming elections which further steps our federal government will take. For now, let’s trust that the House will have Trump on a leash.

Andrea Valdez-Rivas may be reached at theprospector1@gmail.com.

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