There is much to be optimistic about from Tuesday’s midterm elections. Democrats flipped the House of Representatives, giving them the control over motions brought to the floor and the power to subpoena the President, which will allow them to investigate Trump’s tax returns. As 2020 looms and the nation turns to the Democratic Presidential primary, we should, rather than dive into the fanfare, reaffirm our commitment to local and state politics. What we also saw on Tuesday were blatant instances of voter suppression, be it in North Dakota or Georgia, that largely impacted Democratic voters. This disenfranchisement was enacted by state government officials, yet had impacts on the national and gubernatorial arenas. Conversely, many Congressional races in Pennsylvania turned blue, in large part because the State Supreme Court redrew the Congressional district map, deeming the old one illegally gerrymandered. What happens on the state level thus deeply impacts national politics, and we cannot afford to turn our attention from it.
Swatties turned out to vote in numbers that likely exceeded the 2014 midterms, but we need to continue the work to be politically engaged in 2020, and not just at the top of the ticket. Current first-years and sophomores will be in a position to lead the charge to get Swarthmore students active in electing leaders who align with our community values and will protect the dignity and rights of all people. We must continue the work put in by Swatties who spent their summers, evenings, weekends, and more working on campaigns ranging from competitive Congressional races to local elections for Pennsylvania’s state legislature. Having good district attorneys, judges, members of county council, and county commissioners is important. The people we elect locally are the ones who can affect some incredibly important issues of our time, such as education, prisons, and gun violence.
There is a Republican seat on county council up for reëlection next year; if a Democrat wins, they would overturn the Republican majority that has held for over 40 years. The council would then, among other things, be likely to deprivatize Delaware County’s prison, the only for-profit prison in the state. This is but one of the many ways a local election could correct injustice. So rest now, but don’t wait up on the 2020 Presidential hopefuls before getting involved. Let’s buckle down and pull the weeds out at the roots.