Congressional incumbents are hoping that people are so caught up in either defending or hating Donald Trump that voters will forget there are midterm elections this year. They are counting on the misdirection to keep people from
Someone once said, all politics is local. The only problem is, getting voters to understand that. The most effective governing happens at the local level, which, for the purposes of this discussion I would argue should include congressional representatives.
According to statistics provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the 2014 midterm elections saw a mere 36.3 percent turnout – the lowest it had been since World War II, and it hasn’t improved much in the years after. Overall, only about 40 percent of eligible voters actually go to the polls for a midterm election.
The result of midterm elections is often a referendum on the performance of the sitting president or an incumbent’s party. It’s not uncommon to see the entire majority power shift in Congress because of the midterms.
With so many layers of government, it’s the local and congressional elections that have an immediate impact on our lives. These are the people who are making the laws and setting the policies that determine how our towns, cities, and states are operated.
There are also several primary elections are taking place around the country at the same time as the congressional midterms. Just as a refresher, the primaries are the time when voters need to decide between candidates in the same party for the same job. Which Republican or Democrat do you like for a specific post, such as governor?
The point is that there is a lot more going on than just whatever nonsense is coming out of the Oval Office, and voters need to pay attention or they’re going to get burned – again. And no one should be depending on the media to provide clear and fair coverage of these issues any more than they do on any other. Media outlets are biased – period (Save your groans, I’m allowed to be, I’m a columnist, not a reporter).
In any case, you should go look up the information on candidates and issues for yourself. But beware! Believe it or not, the Internet is full of false, misleading, or at least unverified information. If you don’t find the same information on a candidate or issue from at least three different, independent, sources, don’t totally trust it.
Whenever possible, go to the source. For example, if you’re interested in the voting habits of a particular congressman, say Mike Turner (R) of the Ohio 10th District, you can visit websites like clerk.house.gov, the official records of the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.
You can also visit GovTrack.us. Independent sites like this post the outcome of all recorded votes on the Senate and House floors (but not committee votes).
Local information is tougher to come by. When I was a reporter, I found it incredibly difficult to find details on local candidates and issues because most of the campaigns were operating on a shoestring budget and didn’t have complete websites or a press secretary.
A lot of what happens locally goes on behind closed doors, with little or no public oversight because the information is not publicized. It’s available, but you have to go dig for it and most people aren’t willing to take the time.
And keep in mind that the candidate bios you see online or published in the media are carefully crafted to be whatever the campaign wants them to be. Never will you get the full story, and sometimes that doesn’t matter.
Americans often get weighed down in the ridiculous or the over-dramatized. No one should be choosing a candidate, for example, because of his or her stance on a single issue, or solely because they are one party or the other.
Finally, why do we care about this in February? Because it’ll take you that long to figure it all out before the May elections. Remember, here at home your vote matters more than ever. When the time comes, be prepared and make the most informed choice you can.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Join him March 1 at the Plaza Theatre in Miamisburg, OH for The Marketing Triad Workshop! Details at gerydeer.com.