Two political perspectives on the 116th Congress

By William Yanek and Freeman Spray

Veterans Victorious

Military experience in this year’s Congressional Freshman Class is a sign for hope

William Yanek, Online Co-Editor-in-Chief

Our country lost two war heroes and honorable statesmen in 2018: Senator John McCain and former President George H.W. Bush.

The funerals of both these men were something to behold. Seeing politicians from both sides of the aisle come together amicably to celebrate two lives that were dedicated to public service was encouraging. At the same time, the spirit of bipartisanship shown at these funerals continues to be in short supply in our Nation’s Capital.

When the midterm election results came in, conservative and liberal pundits each claimed victory for their party, as per usual. However, there was one story that got lost amidst the great blue wave: the number of military veterans elected to Congress.

In the 2018 midterms, 173 Republican and Democrat veterans ran for Congress. Counting those who did not face election, 96 veterans will be headed to Washington. 19 are freshmen lawmakers, which is the most in a decade, and 7 are women, which is the most in history.

The American people sent a clear message. They are tired of childish antics, unwillingness to compromise, and politicians enriching themselves at our expense. Washington has become a cesspool of corruption, and public service has become a selfish enterprise. Veterans, in the view of the public, are the antidote to America’s prevailing sickness of polarization.

It is true that the midterms results are still aligned with the downward trend of veteran representation since the 1970’s, as the number of veterans serving is down six from the last congressional session. Prior to the Vietnam War, most lawmakers had military experience because of conscription for World War II and the Korean War. It is unlikely veteran representation will ever return to that level.

Even so, this recent spike in new veteran blood couldn’t have come at a better time in our nation’s history. Our politics have become increasingly tribal and polarized. Trust in government is at an all-time low. Good people, who would’ve run for office in years past, simply don’t think it’s worth the effort anymore. Character has taken a backseat to ideology.

Regardless of the number of veterans in Congress, the midterms results showed America wants and needs candidates who reflect the values of veterans. Those values–commitment to service without enrichment, duty to country before party, honor, humility– may be rarer than in the past, but if 2018 is any indication, they just might be coming back in style.

Surf’s Up for the Blue Wave

Freeman Spray, Webmaster

I have always been a strong believer in the power of change. For years I championed the idea that no change is bad change. But I must admit, the nightmare of bigotry and incompetence that has been the Trump presidency tested my faith. It was hard to keep positive about the power of change when everything kept constantly getting worse.

But the midterm elections proved me right. My faith is restored. The comical stupidity and blind hatred propagated by high ranking government officials in the last two years have been incredibly detrimental to our country and to the diverse population struggling to live within it. Trump has done a lot of damage, but his actions galvanized people, specifically young people, to stand up against an oppressive government and make their voices heard.

Voter turnout was the highest ever on record for midterms, and we had the highest population percentage voting since 1966, the year when senator seats were added to the ballot. I was proud to vote in this election, to stick it to Trump, to show him that I wasn’t going to stand idly by while he makes a farce of our legal system. I voted to keep his mindless subordinates like Kevin Yoder and his white supremacist goons like Kris “Voter Suppression” Kobach out of office in Kansas. I voted to get it through his thick skull that he does not have absolute power. I voted to put kind, rational people back in control. And if there’s one thing the last two years have taught me, it’s that when it comes to candidates, kind, rational people come almost exclusively in blue.

When you look at the numbers, it is staggering just how much of an impact young voters made on the election. In a survey beforehand, 40 percent of young people answered that they intended to vote in this election. The highest recorded percentage in prior years is 21 percent. The numbers for this year have not been confirmed, but the number of young people submitting early votes increased by 188 percent. This massive rise in young voters by no means carried the vote, but it certainly had a significant impact.

These numbers and the outcome of the election affirmed a belief that I have held for some time now: that Republicans are in the minority. People aged 18-25 have always been the most unreliable voters by age group, and elections are usually neck and neck. With the boom in blue votes brought on by new voters, we have finally begun to take a definite advantage. I believe that we will retain this advantage, because I believe that the number of good people in the world, the people who will not support Trump, who will not defend racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, sexual assault, mockery of the disabled, voter suppression, incompetency, potential treason, violence, and the countless other injustices espoused by Trump and his lackeys, outnumber the people who support Trump and his oppressive, self-destructive, deluded madness by a wide margin.

I’m not saying that those who didn’t vote democrat are bad people. There are many moderate Republicans who are kind and rational. But they don’t understand that they aren’t really Republicans anymore. The Republican party is warped beyond recognition, destroyed in a hostile takeover. Those who still support Trump and others like him because of blind party allegiance are allowing themselves to be manipulated, are permitting him to go far out of line. Good people can make bad choices, and enabling Trump is a bad choice, make no mistake.

Now that Democrats have retaken the house, we can begin righting some of the wrongs that have piled up in the last two years. We can return this country to its senses, and hopefully, we can restore the Republican party to what it used to be: an actual conservative party, that defended actual conservative principles, rather than just defending the KKK and bald-faced lies.

I believe that this midterm election is the first in a long line of progress towards a kinder America. The successes of many democratic candidates is astounding. Arizona elected its first ever female senator, Kyrsten Sinema, who is also the first openly bisexual senator ever. Sharice Davids became Kansas’ first LGTBQA+ representative and, along with Deb Haaland, became one of the first Native American representatives. In Colorado, Jared Polis became the first openly gay governor in the USA, and the first Jewish governor of the state. Nearly 100 women were projected to win house seats. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first muslim women elected to congress. Omar is a Somali-American refugee.

These are all huge wins for Democrats, but also for diversity. For women, for POC, for the LGTBQA+ community. This is a win for our nation, which is now back on track to becoming less divided. The blue wave crashed down on the Trump administration, and the tide is still coming in. The future is bright. The future is us. And we are bright blue.