Bored by the Midterms? You Shouldn't Be. Here are 10 Reasons To Be Insanely Excited About the 2014 Midterm Elections
The general take on the 2014 midterms so far? Meh. Generally speaking, midterm elections aren't known for their thrill factor. Turnout is much lower than it is during the presidential elections, and the excitement levels tend to match. But this time around, to hear the pundits say it, things are exceptionally dull. This is a Seinfeld election, they claim — an election about nothing. Just two parties debating similar types of vanilla. There is nothing much at stake. It's safe to say that even the people who write about the midterms, some day in and day out, don’t feel all that hyped about what happens next Tuesday.
I think this is silly. There’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to this year’s midterms. Here are 10 reasons why you should be insanely excited for Tuesday:
1. Healthy, young women voters will go out and exercise some constitutional rights.
Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle drew (rightly) some harsh criticism last week for claiming on air that young women were not good voters.
It's the same reason that young women on juries are not a good idea — they don't get it ... They are not in the same life experience of paying the bills, paying the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, healthcare. They are like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world.
Instead, Guilfoyle advised that prosecutors should excuse them from jury service so that they can go back on Tinder.
To this, we just sadly shake our heads. So many gendered stereotypes about women's interests and competence in so few words. Not to mention the complete denial of political rights. This Tuesday, we are excited to see women all over the country, young and old, married and single, parents and proud cactus-owners, will get out and make their voices heard at the ballot box. Maybe we'll join you on Tinder afterwards.
2. There might be some movement in the gridlock that is Congress.
No, we aren’t promising the midterm election will restore our dysfunctional legislative body to a semblance of order. But regardless of how the cards fall, the election results might give either party a wake-up call about how its policies are turning away certain portions of the American electorate. If Republicans pick up the six seats they need to win control of the Senate, then the Democrats might realize that they can no longer deny fundamental shifts on immigration and other broad-based economic reforms that appeal to the middle class. If Democrats pick up the House (much less likely) or at least stave off the predicted Republican surge in the Senate, then the GOP might put together a coherent political vision and take serious steps to shore up its faltering support from people of color and women.
In theory, midterm elections gives the American people a chance to exert pressure on their representatives in Congress, even if they don’t have the pizazz of a presidential contest. An opportunity to raise our voices should be exciting. (Follow-up point: If this midterm turns out to have as little effect on Congressional decision-making as the Seinfeld aficionados predicted, then we should be angry and ready to take more active steps to reforming our electoral process so that it answers to the people, not special interests.)
3. Billionaires and corporations can stop writing huge campaign checks.
We all know that money buys you access, and right before an election, the wealthiest few are under quite a bit of pressure to shell out the cash. This cycle, record amounts of money (upwards of $4 billion) poured into supporting or opposing political candidates during a midterm this cycle, diluting the votes of the average citizen who can’t afford to write $1,000 checks. An unprecedented amount came from so-called “dark money,” meaning that organizations can deploy millions of dollars in campaign ads and other advocacy tools without disclosing where it comes from. (And we were worried about voter fraud.) Fortunately, with the midterms over, the Sheldon Andersons and Koch Brothers out there can start spending their money where they want to — on jets, huge ranches, fine wines, you name it.
4. We can check out CNN's new toy.
CNN, the paramount news provider in the election night circuit, firmly established its reputation for covering up lackluster electoral analysis with expensive technological features in the studio. Remember the holograms from Election Night 2008? So does most of Twitter.
We can’t wait to see what the media company whips out this year, particularly after its parent company, Turner Broadcasting, shed 10 percent of its staff. I am hoping for hologram candidates that race around the studio based on the precinct results.
5. The integrity of our elections has been staunchly protected!
This 2014 election is the first serious test of the aggressive voter restrictions passed in states across the country to “protect electoral integrity.” Critics of these new voting restrictions, which include stringent voter ID laws as well as cuts to early voting and other ballot access measures, argue that the schemes will disproportionately impact minority voters. Evidence suggests that they might be rightly worried. But since the Supreme Court decided in the its Shelby County v Holder decision over a year ago to get rid of robust federal voter protections, voting rights advocates are having a harder time preventing these schemes from disenfranchising people at the polls this year. If the prospect of suppressing minority votes doesn’t scare you, then we might need to have a talk.
6. Male models are coming to North Carolina to take you to the polls.
Students at North Carolina State University have lucked out. Cosmo announced last week that the university had won its first-ever party bus contest as part of the #CosmoVotes campaign. As a result, the magazine is sending a "bus decked out with snacks, swag, and models (hi, this is Cosmo)" to the campus with the goal of turning out voters.
For the record: I am not encouraging people to try to vote in Raleigh just so that they can ride on a bus full of male models. That would not be legal.
7. We can reclaim our airwaves from political attack ads.
What is that $4 billion figure buying this election cycle? To a large extent, attack ads. Campaign ads have just inundated the airwaves in battleground contests across the country. Whatever your political persuasion, I think we can generally agree that campaign ads for either party make bad television.
For example, here is one of Louisiana Senate candidate Rob Maness subduing an alligator:
After Tuesday’s avalanche of final campaign ad buys, the American people can take a much-need respite. Time to welcome back the hypermasculine American truck commercials and the nausea-inducing lists of prescription drug side effects. On second thought, perhaps I will take the alligator back.
8. Now we can stop with the Obama bashing.
Midterm elections are often times taken as referendums on the president more so than they are accountability measures for the sitting Congress. (I am still confused by the logic of this.) And this year’s midterms have been no exception. From the start, Republicans have painted their candidates as opposed to everything Obama has ever done or wanted to do. Democratic candidates, in turn, have been scrambling to distance themselves from the head of their own party. The clear loser in this environment: substantive political debate. And the president.
Regardless of what you think of Obama or his policies, it will be nice to see politicians to develop policy proposals based on empirical evidence and a positive political vision rather than simply take potshots at the sitting president. Or at least, we can hope.
9. We have an excuse to watch the “Turn Out for What” video on repeat.
Since Lil Jon and Lena Dunham paired up to make a Get Out the Vote video that parodies the rapper’s infamous song, “Turn Down for What,” the music video circulated social media and news sites alike. Now, everyone who secretly listens to it on repeat at work can listen proud and share it with friends. Because we support voting.
10. The marathon is over.
After months of attack ads, conflicting polls, candidate debates, and Twitter commentary on the more absurd moments in candidate debates, it will all be over. No more fundraising emails in your inbox. No more phone calls asking if you’ve voted. Just peace, quiet, Ebola coverage, and the whispers about Hillary 2016.
Images: Getty Images (4)