Graphic courtesy of Wikipedia | The 2018 midterm elections ushered a Democratic majority into the House of Representatives. Many voters in purple areas of the country hope that this will prove to be a moment of bipartisanship to unite the country.
The views expressed in the following article are the opinion of the writer and do not reflect the opinions of the Newswire staff as a whole.
Elissa Slotkin will represent the 8th congressional district of Michigan in the 116th United States Congress. She is a moderate Democrat from my home district who just defeated incumbent Mike Bishop in a closely contested race. They ran in a district that has consistently voted Republican for the last 18 years.
With help from the Xavier University campaign internship program, I had the opportunity to be an office and field intern with the campaign over the summer. I also went back just before Election Day to help with the final Get Out the Vote (GOTV) week turnout effort. Both were amazing learning experiences that taught me a lot about what local politics is really like.
During GOTV week, I spent around 48 hours over the span of four days trudging around on wet pavement, knocking on every door to get every last supporter to the polls. I also spent an extra four to six hours each night trying to keep up with my regular responsibilities back at Xavier. I didn’t get more than four hours of sleep the entire time I was back home. No one said democracy is easy.
Election night, I walked into the watch event at around 8:15 p.m. completely physically and mentally spent. A couple nervous and uncertain hours later, I found myself surrounded by a motley crew of college students in the same boat as I was standing about fifteen feet away from Congresswoman-elect Elissa Slotkin as she gave her victory speech to a group of enthusiastic supporters who were packed into a rustic Midwestern athletic club banquet hall. Everybody in the room was as loud as you could be, even though the race wasn’t called until 1:15 a.m.
During her victory speech, she triumphantly declared that this was a turning point in Michigan politics as she called herself part of the new generation of “Midwestern Democrats” who were practical and willing to reach across the aisle to get things done. This winning message of bipartisanship and her rhetoric during the entire campaign is a contrast to how the current state of politics is portrayed by news outlets and how most people imagine it.
CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and an assortment of online publications are more than happy to point you to the loudest, most bombastic voices from both side of the political divide to make you feel like all those involved in politics are just yelling their meaningless talking points to sow political division and pump up their hardcore base. People seem to be ignoring candidates, such as Elissa Slotkin, who successfully reached voters across the aisle to address key problems in our country.
In Michigan, healthcare has been a part of the political conversation ever since Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in May of 2017. Although healthcare seems to be a highly politicized issue, one of the top priorities for most Midwesterners is bringing down the cost of healthcare so that more people can afford insurance. Slotkin ran on the promise that she would work to bring down the cost of healthcare by amending the ACA, a common sense policy compromise. I’m certain that many right-leaning voters, who would support a repeal of the ACA, chose to support Elissa because they knew that they had the same goal and an alternative method.
Voter turnout was also at an all-time high this election cycle. Many analysts are saying that the total could rival presidential year numbers. High levels of voter turnout, as well as a shift in who we are sending to Washington, have led me to believe that it is the start of a shift in American politics.
I am praying for a future where politicians rise above all the noise and dark money to fight for the issues their constituents care about. I believe that Elissa Slotkin won because the 2016 election was a wake-up call to our country to be active participants in our democracy. Her victory is a sign that a practical message, a goal and enough passion can win the hearts of Americans regardless of political affiliation.
Joseph Cotton is a first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Dearborn, Mich.