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Nonvoters, quarterly voters should vote in midterm elections

This is the press view of Chicago's Grant Park stage on Election Night 2008 when President Barack H. Obama won.
This is the press view of Chicago's Grant Park stage on Election Night 2008 when President Barack H. Obama won.
(Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

CNN's 'Crossfire' prime example of why voters from each side should vote regularly

The biggest perk of CNN's "Crossfire" is the ability to listen to two parties talk about the same issue and have to listen to the counterargument of the other. Left-leaning liberals' stomachs may turn at the idea of watching FOX News all day to find someone on their side. Republicans may feel the same way about MSNBC and CNN. And if ever there was an episode to light a fire under those who think voting doesn't matter in midterm elections, the "Crossfire" episode on Thurs., Feb. 13, should've done the trick.

Regular hosts of the show include Newt Gingrich or S.E. Cupp on the conservative side and Stephanie Cutter or Van Jones on the liberal side. When one host is not there, backups show up to fill in for either party's side. On Thursday, Sally Kohn stepped in for the liberal side. And the guests that night were Mo Elleithee (on the "left") and Sean Spicer (on the "right").

Some of the most interesting quotes that night:

"There are bipartisan bills on the Speaker's desk he will not touch. Why? Because of the obsession with the Affordable Care Act...Every poll I see shows they like [the Affordable Care Act] more than they like the Republican party." - Mo Elleithee

"Republicans put some cuts on the table. Couldn't even pass them. Couldn't even get your own measure passed through the House. And meanwhile you have your own members of the party sabotaging themselves. There is some cannibalism going on in the Republican party." - Sally Kohn

"Democrats really want to focus on low-priority issues: felony voter rights, the war on women, birth control for solar panels. Republicans want to focus on an issue that affects all Americans, and there's no bigger pocketbook issue than Obamacare and its effect on the economy. Why are you guys playing small ball?" - S.E. Cupp

"Candidates campaign on things that voters want so if that's such the case then why aren't your guys out there talking about how proud they are to vote for Obamacare?" - Sean Spicer

While Republicans rarely if ever talk about how to "fix" anything in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and more often than not the right-leaning side is repetitive with arguments to repeal ACA, the show still manages to give views on other topics as long as the left-leaning side can temporarily dangle the rattle.

Back to the basics: How does voting work?

Some nonvoters choose not to vote simply because they don't care about the differences in either party. Others believe the two commonly agree on the same topics. When it comes to the lack of change on gun control laws, this is an easy belief to make. But choosing one particular topic and assuming that both parties across the board co-sign each other is a bit naive.

Regardless of what personal views a nonvoter may have about politicians, the way these reps voted yes or no to the Affordable Care Act was a prime example of two parties that are extremely different from each other when it comes to certain views. Having similar views on independent topics does not make every politician a carbon copy of another.

Many just may have forgotten how the voting system works, which is easy to believe considering schools teach the Constitution long enough to graduate from elementary school (or high school). Unless students are actively engaged in politics, it's too easy to forget the basics.

From bill to law: Class politics reminder

In the House of Representatives there are 435 people. In the Senate, there are 100 people (two from each state). There are more House members than Senate members based on the total population in that state, but each state has a minimum of at least one. The House number is yet another reason to actively participate with the Census Bureau as a participant, a volunteer or maybe even as a temporary job.

The House also includes five delegates from the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and a resident member for Puerto Rico. However, according to, the delegates and resident member do not vote in House of Representative meetings.

When someone votes in the primary elections, their vote is considered during the electoral vote total as well as the popular vote. The popular vote is literally the amount of people who voted for a candidate. The electoral vote is a set number for all 50 states that will count towards the final vote for a political party. For example, whoever has the highest number of votes in Illinois would have 20 electoral votes, 55 in California and only 4 in Hawaii. Each state's number of electors is based on the number of members in each state's House and Senate. For an exact number per state, click here. The majority number needed to elect a president is 270.

Outside of Maine and Nebraska, when voting for a president the voter also votes for the candidate's electors (House and Senate leaders). However, the significance of the midterm election is those voters have the opportunity to vote against the House and Senate leaders representing their states that were chosen by the president.

Because the United States is a democracy, not a dictatorship, unless the president chooses to use executive order, every vote counts from a Senate or House leader. This is why picking the Congressional members matter so much every single year that a president is in office, not just every four years.

A bill starts off as an idea that a representative sponsors. A committee studies the bill and if it feels the bill is worth its weight then the bill is voted on by both the House and the Senate. The House must vote at least 218 supportive votes of 435 in order for the bill to go to the Senate. The Senate's committee looks over the bill and, if accepted, the Senate votes have to be 51 supportive votes of 100 in order for the bill to become a law. The president then has 10 days to sign or veto the bill.

What's the point of state and local government?

The 10th Amendment was written to appease those who didn't trust the federal government. For any rights that weren't specifically written into the Constitution, state government could take over. The odds are also more in favor of the people because the governor and mayor are more accessible to the open public than the president is.

This is yet another reason why voting for a governor and mayor is especially important, as well as an alderman. Listening to their views on topics gives a better idea of how similar or separate their actions will be compared to the federal government. This is also why anti-federal citizens emphasize handling some issues on a state level instead of the federal government dictating what should be done on a local level. For some voters, the federal government is either a friend or foe.

Counterargument to 'voting doesn't matter' belief

The idea of remembering what every politician stands for may seem tedious, but all of these people will affect everyday life from jobs to education to neighborhood safety to health. There are community meetings with those who are dedicated to highlighting the politics of political leaders.

Don't feel like reading every detail of every leader? Show up at a meeting opposing a candidate and a separate meeting supporting a candidate. Similar to "Crossfire," this is the easiest way to hear pros and cons for both sides. An even better option is to show up at a church or other local event where opposing parties all meet together and listen to them debate each other.

Whether a nonvoter or quarterly voter likes the candidate or not, to not vote at all is basically voting for the other side. And if you don't vote at all, that's equal to staring at a wound with a first-aid kit in your hand but never bothering to open the box. It hurts you in the long run. Make time for anything that makes time to affect your everyday life.

Recommended Reading:

First Person: Hitting Chicago's Sidewalks for Democratic Voters

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