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Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Care Who’s Going to Congress, and That’s a Bad Thing

A pox on both houses. That seems to be the general feeling of almost half of Americans when it comes to a preference on who controls Congress after the 2014 midterms.

(Image: Lance Page / Truthout; Adapted: Terry Feuerborn, Gregory Hauenstein)

A pox on both houses. That seems to be the general feeling of almost half of Americans when it comes to a preference on who controls Congress after the 2014 midterms. The latest polling shows a remarkably ambivalent public, many of whom don’t really seem that concerned about even voting in the first place.

According to the Associated Press, a recent poll about the upcoming election has people preferring that Democrats get control of Congress at 37 percent, Republicans at 31 percent, and another 31 percent saying they have no preference at all. Furthermore, only 53 percent care “a good deal” about who wins.

As the article notes, a great deal of the apathy is a rather normal state when it comes to a midterm election. After all, voter turnout is traditionally much lower than it is during a presidential election, with a mere 40 percent of eligible voters turning up to cast a ballot.

That’s a tragedy. Midterms can make or break a country, as we saw during the 2010 GOP sweep. There are many life changing reasons to vote in this midterm, and yes, it really does matter which party controls Congress.

1) The Supreme Court and other judgeships: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Anthony Kennedy are nearing retirement age, and although both say they aren’t going anywhere soon, you never know what might happen to either of them, or any justice on the court. A Senate majority that flips to the Republicans is a body that is going to hold up any nominee for the bench in the hopes that 2016 will bring a Republican president into the White House with his or her own conservative nominees. That strategy is already playing out in the massive number of federal bench spots that have remained vacant throughout the Obama administration, which are only now starting to be filled.

2) Obamacare: No, Democrats aren’t going to flip enough seats to potentially take over the House, so we will inevitably be watching another 40-50 “defund Obamacare” show votes there. But if the Senate flipped, those “show votes” will become real. The first thing that you could expect is a budget cut to force states to roll back their Medicaid expansions, which would cause a gap coverage that would make many of the newly insured unable to afford their premiums because they would no longer be receiving a subsidy. Once that happens, they could justify ending the mandate all together because insurance would again be unaffordable, and more people would return to being uninsured.

3) Budgets and Debt Ceilings: Sure, government shutdowns as the House and Senate fight over debt ceilings and the annual budget have been both pointless and harmful. But the alternative would have been massively regressive budgets that were balanced completely on the backs of the poor, with giant tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. That GOP “austerity” budget proposed by Paul Ryan would be a reality in a Republican dominated Congress — a budget that would eventually end social security, make government assistance virtually non-existent, and change Medicare into a program that could bankrupt our country’s elderly, if it survived at all.

4) Big business: Corporations are dumping just as much money into 2014 as they did into 2012, including special interest “anti-tax” and “anti-regulations” groups intent on dismantling government oversight on industries like banking, environmental protections, workplace safety and food and drug safety. Both parties have the support of big business in some ways, but will the battle for living wages, housing reform and paid sick leave and fair work place practices continue if the GOP could control both chambers?

Republicans in the House have made it their job to block any positive reform or policy that the current administration or Democrats have proposed, making much of the last six years mostly gridlock. If Republicans had control of both chambers, however, that gridlock could be changed for the potential to actually enact some of their policies. The question you need to ask when you decide whether or not to vote is are those policies you believe in?

Not voting is just as good as saying yes.

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