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Earlier this month, Americans went to the polls for the midterm elections, rendering their first comprehensive electoral judgments since 2020. As concerned as we are about the state of our nation, the midterms were encouraging — young people showed up to vote in force, election deniers were kept out of battleground ballot rooms, and democracy came out ahead.
With the second-highest youth voter turnout rate in almost 30 years, our generation gave hope for the future of democracy. Galvanized by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, young voters went to the polls with abortion rights top of mind. It paid off: All five states with abortion rights measures on the ballot voted either for enshrining pro-choice policies or against reducing access to abortion, marking a victorious election season for the reproductive rights movement from blue California to deep red Kentucky. Across the country, young people showed that we care about the future of our country — and we will use our voices to shape it.
Our generation also notched wins on the other side of the ballot box, with Maxwell Frost becoming the first Gen Z member of Congress. Representation matters, and putting young people in Congress will ensure that someone is fighting for our interests and increase youth political engagement.
The continued presence and impact of young people at the ballot box is also something that falls upon us. As Harvard students, we are among the best-positioned within our generation to drive youth engagement in politics. The University has taken positive steps to facilitate our leadership in the political realm by funding initiatives like the Harvard Votes Challenge, but as we have opined previously, they can and should go further by declaring election days as University holidays.
This year’s midterm elections also clearly demonstrated the importance of voter engagement at the local level. Maura T. Healy ’92 shattered another glass ceiling as the first woman and the first openly gay person to be elected governor of Massachusetts, while Andrea Campbell simultaneously became the first Black woman to be elected to statewide office in Massachusetts. Healy and Campbell’s wins empower youth from various backgrounds and identities, signaling to the nation that new voices are here to be heard and represented.
Moreover, three out of four progressive ballot propositions endorsed by this Board were passed by Massachusetts voters. This is a step in the right direction toward a more compassionate Massachusetts, and we can’t wait to see our state implement the changes we endorsed.
In future elections, we should respond to the call for political engagement most forcefully when we witness our democracy under threat. This election cycle, we perceived such a threat within the election denial movement centered around former President Donald J. Trump — a movement which voters emphatically rebuffed. The lackluster performance of Trumpian extremists around the nation provided Trump with his strongest rebuke since 2020. In key swing states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, Trump-endorsed candidates fell to Democrats, enabling some of the best midterm results for Democrats in decades.
Even Republicans seem to be growing tired of Trump’s antics. We hope this election marks a turning point — the end of the Trump GOP.
That said, the midterms aren’t over. In Georgia, voters will have to decide whether to give Democrats a 51st Senate seat in the form of Senator Raphael G. Warnock. Warnock, a self-proclaimed “pro-choice pastor,” is something of a unique creature in American politics. Religious morality is often associated in the United States exclusively with social conservatives, but Warnock has given a high profile to religiously-inflected progressivism. His candidacy is a reminder of the wide diversity within American politics — a mosaic of political thought that we hope to cultivate further through our own engagement with the democratic process.
Whatever the runoff results, the midterms have already sent a powerful message: Parties that cannot govern themselves will eventually face the music. The American people largely declined to buy into the sensationalist election denialism that has poisoned our politics for the last two years, and Republicans will have to clean up their party in order to win their votes back. Much has been made of the so-called impending death of democracy, but the arc of history is unpredictable. This election gives us a glimpse of hope and a path forward.
The past four years have been among the most turbulent in modern American political history. These election results may show the beginnings of a return to sanity.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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