Guest Column: Participation in the midterm elections is important, but not enough

In Opinion
A photo of Langsdorf hall

With the U.S. midterm elections arriving, and California universities battling to register the most students to vote (Cal State Fullerton now in second place with 2,627 newly registered voters), one question remains in all of our heads: Which party will have control over Congress for the remainder of President Donald Trump’s term?

The 2018 midterm elections may have the highest turnout since the 1960s, and all over the nation, including in the 39th District, Republican-held seats are being challenged, according to NPR.

Gil Cisneros and Young Kim have been in a head-to-head battle for the 39th District, with recent polls showing Cisneros ahead by one point. The 39th District has always been republican, but for the first time in 80 years a Democrat won the 2016 presidential elections.

So what is at stake? Why does it matter if more young voters turnout to vote? California is surely to remain blue, right? While California’s gubernatorial race, as well as other positions in the state, are said to remain safely Democrat, this is not enough to see actual change be made within our state.

Young informed voters that they must remain active so that real change can be made within the state. The democratic establishment has held its power in the state for much too long.

Even after the 2018 midterm elections, funding for state prisons will still continue to outnumber UC and CSU school systems, rights for transgender and gender nonconforming people will still remain threatened by changes in Title IX, and Yemen will still remain in a humanitarian crisis because of U.S. intervention, according to the L.A. Times.

Although high voter turnout is important in the midterms, both voters and nonvoters must be aiming to include themselves in decisions that extend far beyond a California gas tax repeal (in reference to the odd fixation Republican voters have had on Proposition 6). It is clear that the university system does very little to promote civic engagement in its students. Surely, how can we expect students whose identities intersect on multiple socio-economic levels to be apathetic to politics?

If there is one thing to be said, it is that this current political system will continue to work for people who have the privilege of keeping themselves informed on politics and engaging at a local, state and national level until working class people are engaged.

The trouble I face as a local organizer is producing apathy in college students that are otherwise preoccupied with their studies, work or family. There are a number of issues just in Orange County alone; for example, two immigration centers in Orange County that cost $98.27 per person per day housing detainees, conservative backlash on Assembly Bill 329, which enforces comprehensive sexual education in K-12 including education on gender identity, sexual orientation and gentrification that is pushing out low-income working class families and businesses from the county.

So as campuses in Orange County focus most of their energy registering students to vote, working class people of color are being systematically shut out from education efforts on propositions and candidates that will directly affect them.

While voting in local politics is important, it is not enough. Both voters and nonvoters must continue to organize on issues outside of what is on the ballot for an election year, and this work must not be set aside by people who believe by voting they have done enough. Voting is only one strategy in creating change, and grassroots organizing is the next.

Andrew Flores

CSUF Students for Quality Education member

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