Just a few short days ago, female survivors of sexual assault watched in horror as a suspected sexual predator was appointed to the highest court in the land. As one such survivor explained, "My emotions vacillate between intense rage to abject despair. But this entire horror show has done one thing: it's convinced me that voting in November is a must."
This year's midterms are critical in determining the direction of our nation. Those of us on the left have watched in horror for the past two years as the Trump administration strips away rights from women, members of the LGBTQ community and some of our most vulnerable groups — the children, elderly and the disabled.
What's up for Grabs?
Many people who vote in presidential elections fail to vote in the midterms. But no one should make this mistake. The midterms very much determine the course our nation will take.
While the president does have power, it is the members of Congress who draft and pass new legislation. And in 2018, electing a Democratic majority to both the House and Senate would not only deliver a valuable message to President Trump, but it would also provide a check on his power.
All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives are at stake in the midterms, and 35 U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs on November 6, 2018. If either the House or Senate flips, it will turn into a boon for Democrats. However, should they fail, and should Republicans remain in power, the Trump agenda will continue unchecked with ramifications continuing for decades.
What's at Stake?
In two words — a lot, including the future of the Democratic party.
If the Democrats successfully seize control of either the House or the Senate, they can work vigorously to oppose the Republican's legislative agenda. At the very least, they can act as a check against Republicans further pressing forward with tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans and the complete abolishment of the Affordable Care Act.
While that alone would put health care coverage out of reach for millions of Americans, Republicans additionally are seeking cuts to social welfare programs. They have even proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare at a time when millions of seniors are already barely getting by.
Collusion and Sexual Assault
If Democrats gain control of the House, they could call for further probes, not only into Trump's alleged collusion with Russia to impact the outcome of the 2016 election but into allegations of sexual assault allegedly committed by the president. In the wake of Kavanaugh's confirmation, this would draw a collective sigh of relief from victims everywhere who very much feel as if those in elected office simply do not care about the seriousness of sexual assault.
If Democrats manage to flip the Senate, they can put a serious check on Trump's judicial nomination process. This would hold true not only for future Supreme Court appointments Trump may make but also other federal judges. In addition, should Democrats sweep either or both the House or Senate, Democrats would then also chair all the various committees, such as the Senate Judiciary Committee.
What We've Got to Lose in Healthcare
Should Democrats fail to take control of either House or Senate, seniors and those with disabilities are almost certain to face cuts to their Social Security benefits. Millions are predicted to lose access to health coverage or have it priced out of their reach if Democrats lose control.
This includes members of the gig economy who work on an independent contractor basis. This will also include many workers at small businesses whose employers, once freed of the employer mandate, may choose to no longer offer health benefits.
If Trump doesn't fire Jeff Sessions first, medical marijuana patients may once again become open to prosecution simply for using their medication to control their conditions. And a Republican-led Congress is unlikely to enact legislation allowing medical marijuana use to continue.
The Environment, LGBTQ Rights and Gun Violence
Should Democrats fail to take control of either House or Senate, the impact to the environment may become irreversible. By pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, Trump made it clear that he intends to do nothing about climate change. This counters a UN study that stated an increase of temperature of just one degree might turn into enough to kill hundreds of millions of people.
Women and LGBTQ individuals may lose many of their hard-fought civil liberties if the Democrats lose. The current Supreme Court is almost certain to uphold new abortion restrictions that would effectively destroy a woman's right to choose. States could potentially again bring new cases before the court challenging the legitimacy of gay marriage.
If Republicans maintain control of both House and Senate, young people can rest assured that their elected officials will continue to do nothing but offer meaningless thoughts and prayers when they or their classmates are gunned down in school. In fact, gun violence may increase with Republicans' absurd idea to bring more guns into the classroom by arming teachers.
Exercise Your Right
With so much at stake, it simply isn't okay to sit on the couch or throw one's hands up in despair. We've got a shot remaining to change things and take back our democracy. Register to vote today! On November 6, get out there and exercise your right to vote. While it may seem like a stretch to say it will be the last time that you can exercise that right, there may never come a time when it would count more.