by Alanna Carlson | Staff Writer
If you didn’t know better, scrolling through social media on election night a few weeks ago might have made you think that 2018 was a Presidential election year. And while we might have to wait another two years for a chance to keep or replace President Donald Trump, this year’s elections were the most high-profile midterm elections in many years for good reason. For Democrats and Republicans alike, the stakes were incredibly high. And while there were some incredibly disheartening things that came out of this election season — not the least of which being rampant voter suppression in places like Georgia and North Dakota, according to Vox — the results of this year’s elections had a lot of hope to offer as well.
The elections for the 115th Congress broke record after record, from largest number of women ever to serve in the Senate, according to U.S. News & World Report, to firsts of all kinds. Michigan and Minnesota elected the first ever Muslim women to the House of Representatives. Texas elected not one but two Latina women to the House. In New Mexico, a Native American woman was elected to the first district seat. Kansas elected another Native American woman, who is also the state’s first openly gay representative. Massachusetts elected its first black congresswoman. NRA enthusiasts and sexists and homophobes lost their seats. And my personal favorite, New York elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress.
Many of these victories were possible because of record-high turnouts for this year’s midterm elections. According to the United States Election Project, more than 47 percent of eligible voters turned out on Election Day this year. That number may not sound all that impressive, until you realize that voter turnout for a midterm election hasn’t been that high since 1966, according to NPR. The voter turnout among young people aged 18 to 29 was 31 percent, rising at least ten percent higher than the 2014 midterm turnout, according to estimates from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
These victories and so many more give those of us who value racial, gender, and religious diversity a shred of hope that the Donald Trumps of our country will not succeed. People around the country — and especially young people — raised their collective voices to show those who would ignore us that we will not be silenced, that we will fight for our rights and the rights of those who have had their voices taken, and that hatred and fear will not win in America.
In the past few years, I have found it hard to find reasons to be proud of my country. That Tuesday night, I was proud of my fellow Americans and our resilience in the face of so many negative forces. Tuesday night restored a smidgen of hope that the America of bigots and racists doesn’t stand a chance against the America of acceptance, diversity and real freedom.