Records were smashed with a century-high voter turnout on Election Day this year, with almost half of all eligible citizens casting a ballot in Congressional, gubernatorial, and local races. In Massachusetts, this voter wave included several WHS students and faculty, many of whom shared their opinions on national politics in the weeks after the midterms.
Senior Michael Martinez pointed out the importance of the midterms in the U.S. government as a whole.
“I think this specific midterm election was so vital because we strengthened our checks and balances,” Martinez said. “Whatever you think of the person who holds the executive office, it’s important to know that because of these elections, things are going to be more balanced in Washington and be more reflective of the political opinions of the general population.”
Senior Hannah Brown was one student who voted on Election Day. After voting for the first time, Brown hopes that the convenience of the process will convince more people to vote in future elections.
“It was really exciting to be able to voice my opinion as an adult. It’s also super easy to go vote and doesn’t take long at all, so I think people definitely should make it a priority,” Brown said.
After the midterms, the Democratic Party clinched a majority of 235 of 435 seats in the House of Representatives, whereas the Republican Party continues to maintain its lead of 53 out of 100 seats in the Senate.
For junior Leah Barz-Snell, who personally supports left-leaning legislation, the election was a positive start for Democrats looking to regain power in Congress.
“I think that it’s good that we [the Democrats] finally got the House [of Representatives] back. At least now, we can get our voice in a little more on new legislation,” she said.
However, Barz-Snell also noted that the split control of the two houses of Congress will bring legislative progress to a halt.
“It’s going to be less dominated by one party. But at the same time, because there’s going to be an equal amount of votes, it will be harder to get legislation passed because there will be so many differing opinions,” Barz-Snell said.
Meanwhile, junior McKay Sumsion said that as a conservative, he does not oppose this blocking of new legislation.
“In the current political landscape, the fact that the Democrats control the House could allow them to obstruct the Republicans,” he said. “But that isn’t really that big of an issue for them, because conservatives are generally happy when nothing is being done in government.”
Regardless of political party, candidates have adjusted campaign tactics in recent years in order to appeal to broader demographics. History department head Kerry Dunne highlighted several of these changes that have taken place in the political sphere since she started voting.
“A main change has the use of vehicles other than television ads in favor of social media,” she said. “What’s interesting is that grassroots efforts, a traditionally old-school tactic, seem to have become more important than ever.”
For example, Dunne commented on a candidate who used this grassroots tactic to pull off an upset primary victory.
“[Representative-elect] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after winning the Democratic Primary, posted a photo of her shoes on social media, which had holes in the bottom from the amount of walking and knocking on doors that she’d done,” she said.
In addition to changes in the political sphere, Dunne noted shifts in voting processes in Massachusetts, which now involve more students.
“Boston Public Schools didn’t have school on Election Day, and had high schoolers volunteer at the polls and assist the poll workers all day long,” she said. “I think in Weston, we could do a field trip for 20 or so students interested in government and politics assist at the polls in a non-partisan way, if the town clerk was willing to work with us on that.”
As a student, Barz-Snell emphasized the importance of the student body being active and informed in today’s politics.
“I think a lot of people have stopped following politics because the news is too painful to keep track of,” she said. “But I think it’s really important to stay well-informed and know what is happening in your country.”