The results of Tuesday’s midterm elections were a mixed bag across the country. But regardless of how one feels about the outcome, there is one thing we can all agree on: Our democracy works.
Voters turned out in record numbers to express their views on the candidates and issues, and they forced major change in a number of states — and in Congress.
In Michigan, the Associated Press reported that more than 4 million people — 52 percent of the voting age population — cast a ballot this election. That’s the highest rate for a midterm in 50 years.
Voting is the most effective way for citizens to voice displeasure or contentment. Showing up to the polls makes a difference.
And it beats rowdy protests and demonstrations that have become increasingly common. (Think the response to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court last month.)
While Americans have the right to express themselves in that way, such actions can erode civility and the chance that people on opposing sides of the political spectrum will actually talk about the issues in a rational way.
The female factor in the midterms is an excellent example of how the ballot box counts.
Since President Donald Trump was elected, women were motivated in record numbers to run for office — and to vote. The Women’s March and the #MeToo movement coincided to encourage women to get involved.
The pink wave turned out to be a real phenomenon, and it hit Michigan with force. The top three statewide offices are now held by women with Gretchen Whitmer as governor, Jocelyn Benson as secretary of state and Dana Nessel as attorney general. Women also did well in legislative and congressional races.
This comes as no surprise. Women — especially Democratic women — wanted to express their displeasure at the president. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll last month found that 57 percent of Democratic women said Trump was a major factor in their decision to vote for Congress.
And Democrats have now taken back control of the U.S. House, for the first time in eight years. Women fueled that win, with a record number of women who will serve in 2019. Most of these women are Democrats: 83 of the 95 elected to the House, for example.
We’d like to see more conservative women join the trend. But that’s the wonderful thing about our system of choosing elected officials — if Republican women get fed up and want to run, they can, and will.
Tuesday showed us once again that voting is the most effective path to change in our democracy.