By: STEPHEN M. SALISBURY
Happy Halloween, everyone! This is an especially spooky year because of the midterm election that happens this coming Tuesday. Midterms are always interesting to those of us who follow politics, but I’m not sure the average citizen gets much excitement out of this particular political phenomenon. It is not uncommon, after the election of a new president, for their party to suffer major defeats in the first midterm after they’ve been elected. It happened to Bill Clinton in 1994. It happened to President Obama in 2010. It happened to Ronald Reagan in 1986 which came just two years after one of the most lopsided reelection victories of any sitting president.
My point is that political turmoil is nothing new in our country. Confrontation between the Commander-in-Chief and the electorate, and in particular the press corps, is also unoriginal. The vitriol coming from the Oval Office recently seems harsh, no doubt, but not unprecedented. Richard Nixon literally had an “Enemies List” that included mostly people whom he didn’t like and by whom he felt threatened domestically.
Recently I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on the Vietnam War. We see conflict in our country now because of political differences, but it pales in comparison to the backlash our government was experiencing during the 1960s and early 70s. In addition to the turmoil that came on the heels of the Civil Rights movement, many young people were actively dissenting against what they felt was an unjust and unnecessary conflict in Southeast Asia. College students protesting the war were killed at Kent State by National Guard troops on May 4, 1970. Two years prior riots had broken out on the streets of Chicago as protestors confronted their leaders at the Democratic National Convention.
The U.S has gone through cycles in which we become frustrated, and perhaps in some instances downright angry, with those who run our country, but there will never be any greater weapon we have at our disposal than the ballot box. In the past week, mail bombs were sent by a disgruntled supporter of the President’s to those whom he perceived as the President’s enemies, but that cannot be the way we deal with those with whom we do not agree politically. We have to take action by showing up on Election Day.
Last week, The Preface did a “We Asked You” segment on whether students believed that their vote matters. Unfortunately, most who responded replied in the negative. That, my friends, is a lie told by ourselves and by others to discourage us from participating in our democracy. I’ll be honest, I do care who you vote for. Anyone who has read my column in the past is well aware of where my political leanings lie. But, I care more that you vote. The reason foreign entities might have attempted to manipulate our elections two years ago is exactly why we must actively participate in them. They know that if they can undermine our confidence in the integrity of our political process, we likely will passively give up on exercising in that privilege afforded to us by our Constitution. The best way to fight back is to let them know that they can’t stop you from letting your voice be heard.
If you didn’t get registered in time to participate during this cycle, go ASAP and get registered for the next. If you are registered, don’t forget to go to your polling place and voice your opinion by checking off a few boxes. If you have any questions about whether you are registered or where you can vote on Tuesday, all of your questions can be answered at https://indianavoters.in.gov. If nothing else, you can brag to your friends about how you helped put an end to all of those scary ads that have been on TV the past few months!