As states roll back reproductive rights across the nation, violent attacks target our political leaders and democracy itself seems under threat, the outcome of this year’s midterm election will determine the future of this country. A Republican majority in Congress could enact a nationwide abortion ban, oppose gun control legislation, reduce Medicare or raise the cost of prescription drugs. Though young, left-leaning voters are growing increasingly disillusioned with the Democratic party, the stakes of this election carry a harsh truth for them – if progressive voters fail to fill government seats with Democrats, Republican politicians will seize their power to threaten human rights. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to rally behind Democratic candidates for office.
Dwindling support from America’s youngest voters, who are more progressive than older generations, has been a looming source of concern for Democratic politicians in this year’s midterm elections. Losing the vote of young Democrats is devastating to the party – when only about 20 percent of Americans younger than 30 voted in the midterm election under former President Barack Obama, Republicans were able to take control of the House of Representatives in 2010 and both chambers of Congress in 2014. Young voters make up a much smaller fraction of early voters in 2022 as compared to the 2020 election. And now, estimates of President Joe Biden’s approval rating among young voters have been steadily decreasing, currently estimated at about only 30 percent to 40 percent. In comparison, former President Donald Trump’s approval ratings among the same group averaged at roughly 50 percent.
Many voters feel as if they’ve given their vote to Democratic politicians who aren’t making substantive change – they may seek nothing short of an immediate and total social and economic revolution. Left-leaning voters feel Biden and Democrats are failing to assert their political power and have grown at odds with the political party that fails to meet their demands despite controlling the White House and Congress.
The sentiment extends to GW’s campus – GW Environmental Justice Action Network criticized Biden’s minimal effort to eliminate emissions from cars and trucks, and The GW Political Review has argued that Biden failed to use his executive power to protect abortion rights in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Instead of codifying abortion access after the Supreme Court’s decision leaked this May, Democrats solicited donations for their campaigns. Nor have they or Biden passed revolutionary gun reform, declared a state of climate emergency or offered sweeping student debt forgiveness to help those with private loans. Even last February, GW’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America bluntly tweeted, “Can we shut up about Joe Biden’s f*cking dogs already literally who cares.”
To be clear, I am also disillusioned with Biden and the Democratic party. I haven’t forgotten about former U.S. Senate aide Tara Reade’s groping accusations against Biden in 2020. And I am both furious and horrified by Democrats’ failure to codify abortion rights and declare a climate emergency, support for increased police funding despite an uptick in racially motivated police violence and resistance to changing political systems, like the filibuster, that stall the progress of this country. So I, too, am ready for everyone to shut up about Joe Biden’s f*cking dogs already.
But whether we youth voters like it or not, if Democrats are not elected, then Republicans are most likely to fill government vacancies. The Democratic party does not have all the solutions, but it holds the foundations to make more progressive change than Republicans. Biden has succeeded in passing some major liberal initiatives, like the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first major gun safety legislation Congress had passed in 30 years, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which will cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40 percent by 2030. Many issues plaguing the country today are not at the fault of Democrats – inflation and high gas prices are largely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both international problems not specific to a failure on the part of Biden or the party.
While the Biden administration hasn’t met every voter’s expectations, its successes demonstrate the necessary progress that Democratic leadership can create. But Democrats rely on young voters to get elected. The need for college students like ourselves to show up during elections and support Democrat nominees cannot be understated. Despite the understandable, collective disappointment in Democrats, Republican politicians threaten the future of issues from health care to climate change to civil rights in the United States.
With a little more than a week before Election Day, we should keep our focus on encouraging leftist voters to go to the polls and support Democrats in Congressional and local elections. Advocate along with the Student Association to turn Election Day into a GW holiday, volunteer as a poll worker or check out clubs or University events that encourage productive political conversations. Focus on the need to defeat Republicans who would threaten our rights instead of causing Democratic losses by disincentivizing liberal voters.
Chloe Werner, a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communication, is an opinions writer.