Policy, reform and elections: What 2022 brings for politics

Seniors+Lily+Dumas+and+Alyse+Zuiderveen+meet+with+Iowa+Legislators+as+they+prepare+to+vote+in+the+2022+elections.

Jordyn Landau

Seniors Lily Dumas and Alyse Zuiderveen meet with Iowa Legislators as they prepare to vote in the 2022 elections.

Alyse Zuiderveen, Copy Editor

In a world excited to spark political change, it seems that elections and elected officials are a constant topic of conversation. As a new year begins, it is important to evaluate what is to come for politics and work to get involved in any way possible.

While many think the timeline of the political process peaks every four years, it is important to recognize and participate in the elections that happen in between presidential elections. At PV, students have been able to witness firsthand the campaign process in non-presidential election years through the recent controversial school board election in 2021. Outside of these elections, however, many students and parents alike often neglect the value of elections besides those of school board members and presidential elections. 

On average, only 40% of eligible voters utilize their voting power in midterm elections – a 20% decrease from those who vote in presidential elections. However, in today’s politicized society, it is crucial that voters realize the importance of midterm elections and take action. 

Midterm elections have great impacts on the political climate of the United States at both the national and local levels. On Nov. 8th, 2022, 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be up for election – this could have a large impact on the majority in the Senate considering the current partisan balance in the Senate. The 117th Congress currently has 48 seats of Democrats, 50 seats of Republicans and two Independents who both caucus with Democrats. 

In addition to Senate elections, members in the House of Representatives have two year terms, meaning the House majority can change in both midterm and presidential election years. The new House will play a large role in future decisions.

So why do citizens across the United States lack urgency when it comes to midterm elections?

Joe Youngbauer is a government teacher at PVHS who strongly believes that this year’s midterm elections will play a large role in the decisions that get made in the United States government. “Whichever political party is able to take control of one chamber or potentially both will hold a major advantage in the law-making process. The party in the majority will hold all committee chair positions in Congress. Those positions hold significant power in ushering in legislation through the law-making process,” he shared. 

Youngbauer believes that because the elected officials in Congress are the voices for the people of their state, voting for them is an important way citizens can represent themselves. “While we recognize and respect the power of the President, ultimately Congress can determine how much or what of a President’s agenda can actually get accomplished,” he shared. 

Regardless of whether a voter agrees with the opinions of a president, it is important that they participate in the voting process – after all, the idea that individual voters do not matter was recently found incorrect during a 2020 Iowa election between Republican candidate Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Democrat candidate Rita Hart, an election where the victory margin of Miller-Meeks was a mere six votes

During midterm elections, citizens across the United States have the opportunity to use their voices in elections and therefore impact the decisions of the government. This makes it all the more important that citizens eligible to vote do so in a manner that represents their beliefs and opinions. 

Midterms are one aspect of politics to come in 2022, but it is important to also recognize what will be coming in terms of political issues. As of January 2022, many individuals are looking forward to hearing decisions about vaccine mandates, the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade and decisions regarding the environment. This year will also be a catalyst for many of the frontrunners for the 2024 election. 

So, why do midterms matter? Despite the promises of the Biden Administration, the fruition of many of their proposals will depend on the majority in both the House and the Senate since the passing of bills requires a majority in both chambers of Congress. 

While many students are passionate about politics and will gladly participate in debates or post their views on social media, it is imperative that they take action and support their beliefs by registering to vote. Voting is important regardless of voter location, and it is especially important for Iowans to participate in the entirety of the voting process including the Iowa Caucus. This Caucus gives Iowans an opportunity to help play a role in the election process by choosing frontrunners early on.

Jake Wilsted is a junior at PVHS who is actively involved in politics. He is looking forward to seeing the results of midterm elections in the new year, “Even though midterm elections do not determine the presidency, Congress plays the role of making our nation’s laws,” he shared.

Wilsted is also the President of Students for Political Action, a nonpartisan club at the high school that works to “educate the student body as a whole about their responsibilities in a democratic society.” Students for Political Action will be intentional to work as a club to help students navigate what is to come in 2022. “[We] will be meeting to brainstorm ideas on how to encourage voting. The majority of students at PVHS can’t vote, so we will also be discussing ways to get our student body informed,” Wilsted shared.

Regardless of what 2022 brings, involvement in America’s political system remains a crucial part of the democracy American citizens cherish. It is incredibly important that regardless of age, individuals across the country get involved in the United States political system in an effort to use their voice and vote in a way that they feel will benefit the country for years to come.