Opinion

Opinion: 2022 midterms give voters power to change state legislatures, Congress

How long are we willing to tolerate the obstructionism, stonewalling, half-truths and downright lies that are being used to pass detrimental legislation — or no legislation at all — in state legislatures and in Congress?

We, the people, have the power to change things, beginning with the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.

If only we use that power.

In Congress, 35 of the 100 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are on the ballot this year. At the state level, there are 39 governors up for election, and many other state and local offices where needed change can occur.

What are the elected officials representing you doing to promote decisions in your best interest in your state or Congress? Looking at what is taking place in many of our state Capitols and Congress, too often we are left frustrated, dismayed and exhausted.

When will we, the people, say ‘enough’ and exercise the power of the vote that is ours and change the paths that we are on?

The fact that there are many elected officials in states across the nation trying to take that power away should be a wake-up call. We should be very alarmed and willing to do something about it.

Now.

Now is not the time to feel powerless and throw up our hands thinking there is nothing we can do. Our vote is a powerful weapon if we use it. Now is the time to learn all about the candidates vying for your vote in this critical election cycle.

There is a great opportunity to break the cycle of what typically happens in mid-term elections. Voter turnout is usually lower than during presidential elections. Some candidates count on that by only appealing to their base of supporters, which often represent the minority of voters, not the majority.

So when those candidates win, the agenda of the minority controls policies and legislation that are pursued and often passed whether they are in the best interests of the majority of citizens or not.

Why not let the 2022 midterm elections be a time to make some needed changes, to make history?

Often, voters ignore the primary elections, choosing to vote only in the general election in November. But primary elections are critical. If you fail to vote during the primary, the most qualified candidates could be eliminated.

Most midterm primary elections are coming up, beginning in May and lasting until mid-September. Check the date and elections to be decided in your state. Circulate that information wherever you are able to do so.

Whether incumbents or first-time candidates, no matter what position they are running for, it is so critical for you to get to know them and their positions on the issues you care about.

Look into their background and their public record. Who are they politically aligned with? Will they likely help change and stop the political rancor, discord, divisiveness and dysfunction, or will they continue the path we are on? If they seem prone to just sit on the sidelines and go along to get along, then they will not be a part of the solution.

For those who are currently in office, it is not enough to hear what they are promising. It is critical to evaluate what they have done, or not done, during their tenure. The policies and legislation they have supported or failed to support are public record.

If you are able to participate in a public forum, ask them about their positions and actions.

A real change in the politics will not take place without us taking the time to get involved — and voting.

Once you have made an assessment of who you are supporting and will vote for, that is great. But all of us need to do more.

We can make our support for a particular candidate known and explain why to family members and anyone who might be genuinely concerned about what is going on in any and all of our legislative bodies.

Public dialogue and policies roll up and down hill. What happens at the local and state level is reflected in the halls of Congress and vice versa.

Janice Ellis

Ultimately, voting at every level matters. That is the vast reach and impact of each and every time we vote.

We cannot afford to squander the only real power we have in casting our vote. Let us make history by voting in record numbers in the 2022 midterm elections.

The immediate and long-term future of our state and the nation hangs in the balance. This election, perhaps more so than ever.

This commentary by Janice Ellis is published by permission of The Missouri Independent.

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