Obama and Oprah pull up to show why the midterm elections matter
The U.S. midterm elections usually do not garner a lot of attention domestically, let alone internationally. The global political climate, however, is at a crossroads.
Right-wing extremism and nationalism have proven to be a formidable wave across Europe and Latin America, leaving many political analysts concerned about the state of liberal democracy at this current historical juncture. In short, the stakes are higher than ever.
The results of the midterm elections essentially trouble the prospect of Trump’s re-election in 2020, whom in the short timeline of his presidency since 2016 has made a stirring impact on the stage of global politics. With tomorrow’s midterm election results looming — the atmosphere is palpable — a conflation of angst and fear but importantly, also hope.
The midterms offer an opportunity for Democratic voters to recover from both their disappointment and shock of the 2016 election by regaining the majority of the House and possibly the Senate, if a “blue wave” is indeed engendered by the turnout of the midterms.
It is for these reasons that the democratic campaign trail drew some of the biggest and most influential names this weekend to galvanize people to vote in the red states of Georgia and Florida. Former U.S. President Barack Obama touched down in Florida to endorse Mayor Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson. Obama later joined TV mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey in Georgia to endorse Governor hopeful Stacey Abrams.
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Should Gillum win, he will be Florida’s first black governor. A victory for Abrams would make history. Should Abrams win, she would not only be Georgia’s first black female governor but would also be the first black female governor in the United States.
Reaffirming his status as one of the most eloquent orators, Obama delivered one of his many inspiring speeches. Refusing to state the current President’s name, Obama opted to allude to the 45th President, pointing to the current administration’s routinely divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. Obama declared,
“When you vote you can choose hope over fear.”
In his speech, Obama emphasized how a single election does not completely rid society from systemic issues of racism, misogyny, sexism, homophobia etc, but it is the starting point to producing a progressive trajectory for the nation to follow.
Obama has chosen not to follow the tradition of former presidents who have relinquished themselves from the political scene after their term, stating in his first campaign appearance earlier in September in Chicago,
“This is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us, as citizens of the United States, need to determine just who it is that we are, just what it is that we stand for.”
In his speech, Obama reminded the crowd in Florida that Republicans were one vote short of completely repealing the Affordable Care Act, sending a strong warning and urging Americans not to be misled by Republicans on healthcare ahead of the upcoming election, declaring their messages as blatant lies.
Following the words of the former President, Gillum made the stage, asserting in his speech,
“We have a chance to send them an unapologetic message: that their brand of politics is no longer acceptable in the state of Florida.”
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As I reflect on election night ten years ago today, I can’t help but think about where my political career started. I wasn’t running for office. I was running a voter-registration drive in Chicago. What I learned then — and what would become the premise of my 2008 campaign — was that you couldn’t just fight for existing votes. You had to reach out to all of these people who had lost faith and lost trust, and get them off the sidelines. So during our first campaign, when I started seeing all these stories about record turnout in communities all over the country — from young people in line for hours in Iowa to elderly folks in lawn chairs down in Florida — I knew that we had shown what is possible when everybody decides to participate. And that, in and of itself, gave people a sense of their own power — their own agency in the kind of country we want to leave for our kids. When more people get off the sidelines and decide to participate, our country becomes a little more representative of its people — of everyone’s collective decision. And American politics can change as a result. So on Election Day this Tuesday, I’m not just asking you to vote. I’m asking you to really show up once again. Talk with your friends, convince some new voters, and get them out to vote because then something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. And with each new step we take in the direction of fairness, and justice, and equality, and opportunity, hope spreads.
Meanwhile in Georgia, Oprah Winfrey went door-to-door urging local residents to vote. Winfrey again delivered another mesmerizing speech to the town hall floors of Cobb County and DeKalb County, telling voters,
“Make your voice heard on Nov. 6. We have this incredible opportunity to make history. We have our inalienable right, because the one place that all people are equal is at the polls.”
“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote, and you are choosing not to vote — wherever you are in this state, in this country — you are dishonoring your family. You are disrespecting and disregarding their legacy, their suffering and their dreams, when you don’t vote. When I go to the polls, I cast a vote for my grandmother who died in 1963 before the voting rights act of 1965 and never had the chance to vote…”
“And I’m here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed, for the right of the equality of the polls. And I want you to know that their blood has seeped into my DNA, and I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain.”
Abrams is running against Brian Kemp who is reeling of the back of the controversy of taking thousands of voters, (the majority of whom were black) off state’s voter rolls.
This controversy that was further exacerbated by the earlier instance in the state, where a group of black senior voters were ordered off a bus on its way to the polls. The event made national headlines and has became the paradigmatic case for highlighting the reality of black voter suppression this midterm election.
Undoubtedly, Trump’s presidency has created a highly divisive and contentious political climate. The implications of the midterms, however, are not just political but also economic, though these two forces are inextricably intertwined.
One cannot overlook the impact the election results will have on markets around the world. Evidently, the upcoming U.S. elections have engendered strong interest from those in the private sector. While November 6th is a date that doesn’t tend to be on the world’s radar, perhaps for the first time, it will be this year.
Some may view such sentiments as hyperbolic. Yet, the results on November 6th are instrumental in shaping the course of the nation’s trajectory in the next two years and this of course has global implications.