With so much energy surrounding politics thanks to social media, it can be difficult for people to understand what they are supposed to care about and in which topics they should fully invest themselves. While certainly the presidency has its importance in the American political engine, the president cannot create true legislation. Only Congress can. Congress writes the laws, deals with net neutrality, formally declares war, etc. The president approves or does not approve of these legislative decisions and focuses on enforcement of them. He apparently rants on Twitter as well. That is pretty much it.
Despite this, many people ask why they should care. Why does my vote matter? When has it ever? Nothing ever changes regardless of my vote, right? Why should I care?
Well, I could spend the next several paragraphs validating my reasoning why this year matters more than you think, but instead, I am going to let the numbers speak for themselves.
Out of 100 seats in the Senate, 34 of them are up for reelection on Nov. 6: 24 of those seats currently belong to Democrats, eight belong to Republicans and two belong to independents. According to 270towin.com, the current makeup of the Senate gives Republicans a majority in the Senate by only one seat. With 34 seats up for grabs, the entire balance of the Senate hinges on the voting population deciding where they want the Senate to stand. This is especially important because the Senate ratifies President Trump’s picks for both his Cabinet and the Supreme Court.
For the House, they serve two-year terms, so that means every representative is up for reelection. Let me repeat that. All 435 members of the House can be completely replaced in one fell swoop.
With 435 representatives and 34 senators up for re-election, that makes 469 members of Congress up for reelection. 469 out of 535 positions are up for grabs. This means, if we had the mind to, this country could vote out 87 percent of Congress in one shot, but we do not. We allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking our vote has no true power. The opposite is true; you have more political power than you can possibly imagine.
Realistically, you do not have the ability to vote on every one of those seats. In Tennessee, there are nine representatives up for re-election, and with both Senate seats up for re-election in Tennessee as well, that means every eligible citizen in the state of Tennessee can vote out and replace 11 members of Congress. That means you, individually, have the power to replace 2 percent of Congress.
As if all that math was not clear enough, the governor of Tennessee is also up for re-election, meaning you have the power to influence politics at the state level as well. You want your local legislature to care more about certain topics? Vote in people who do care about these things.
This is why voting exists. If you do not like the way the government runs, a democratic republic endures you have the power to change how it runs to better serve its constituents. This is your year to make some noise, to decide where you want this country to go.
I say all this, of course, with an additional point: research the candidates before you vote. Do not vote simply by party lines, especially in your local elections. Look up what policies each candidate supports and condemns. Research what they stand for and what they want to do. Then vote for the candidates you believe would best push for the policies you want enacted.
Voting simply on whether the candidate is red or blue is what got us into this mess. It is what led to the recent shutdown, and only fuels partisan hatred that led to Trump’s election in the first place. Vote for positive change, because no one can legally take away your right to vote. You have the power to change one of the most powerful governments on the planet. Use it.