While many people seem to disregard the importance of midterm elections and instead focus on presidential elections, these elections determine a significant amount of our national and local government. With about one-third of the Senate being elected and the entire House being elected, results of the midterm elections greatly impact the United States legislation and, in the 2018 midterm elections, this was no exception; our Congress is now split with Democrats now controlling the House and Republicans maintaining control over the Senate.
“This is what we call divided government and, sometimes, it is actually more efficient because it forces compromise,” said Ann Baldwin, an All Saints’ government teacher. “It’s not unusual, but it may be the best gift we have been given in 2018 in terms of political compromise.” Passing laws will be more difficult because now both parties will have to agree on pieces of legislation in order for them to pass.
“The Republicans will not be able to pass any legislation without support from a number of Democrats, something that would keep them, for example, from passing a tax cut like the one they passed last year,” remarked James Riddlesperger, Professor of Political Science at TCU. The same goes for repealing Obamacare, building a wall, defunding Planned Parenthood, and moving ahead on any controversial policy favored by Republicans.
Another significant result of this year’s midterm election was the emergence of diversity into the United States’ government. The House of Representatives elected a record number of 90 women, who are expected to make their way to Washington, D.C. in January. Additionally, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, along with Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids being the first Native American women.
“The increased diversity in Congress means that the face of Congress has changed,” said Riddlesperger. “Decision-making will involve women at every stage of the process and will require hearing voices from more diverse points of view. This is a wonderful development and makes Congress more representative of the public as a whole than it has ever been.”
Regarding the increase of women representation, Baldwin added,“I think this is going to be a harbinger of things to come.”
Honing in on Texas specifically, the closely-followed Senate race shocked many across the nation, with its tight margins between Senator Ted Cruz (50.9%) and Congressman Beto O’Rourke (48.3%), according to the Washington Post. Considering that Texas historically leans conservative, this election reveals that Texas may be changing.
“I was absolutely shocked, especially with Tarrant and Dallas County because Tarrant County, more so than Dallas, has been historically very conservative,” observed Baldwin. “So to see Tarrant turn blue was pretty incredible. What does this mean for the future of our state? I’m afraid that’s a long-term question that’s going to have to be answered later.”
In regards to why this race was so close, Riddlesperger remarked,
“The diversity of the Texas population is one cause. Another is backlash among some women against the Republican Party under President Trump.”
With the results of the 2018 midterm elections, both nationally and locally, it is clear that the face of government is evolving and diversifying to create a more inclusive America. In order to be a part of this, everyone must pay attention and vote.
“Voting is such a personal thing,” said Baldwin. “It’s like religion. It’s like a lot of things in life. People are going to do what they want to do and if they choose not to vote, they’re losing their voice.”