Jessy Gill, Policy Specialist
In a given election year, polling and race ratings start months in advance, followed quickly by news anchors and articles dissecting the results and comparing them against previous year’s statistics. Estimations become clearer as we near the election date, with resources such as Politico’s color coded maps to help us visualize this election’s party divisions by state and district. But those are all just numbers and statistics and predictions at this point – historically, very accurate and calculated predictions, but predictions nonetheless.
Given the absence of a presidential election, some may find it hard to recognize the significance of the approaching mid-term elections. But with 36 US Senate seats and all 435 House of Representatives seats on the ballot, the significant outcome of this election lies on the shoulders of those who choose to engage.
For those who prioritize issues of food and farming, there are resources to look back at where our current Congress Members stand on these issues. From our perspective, it is clear there are several well-established programs critical to our communities that have been consistently neglected, attacked, or bargained with – riders against GIPSA and COOL, and basic funding for small programs such as 2501 to name a few.
This history of abuse to these programs causes great concern for the future of food and farming in the hands of the predicted 114th Congress, particularly as we are reminded of the future climate they will be working in. When comparing policies we expect to see in 2015 (Waters of the US, Child Nutrition Act Re-authorization, Food Safety Modernization Act, regularly passed annual appropriations) with the current climate we are in (perpetual drought, US involvement in the middle east, continuous attempts to repeal Affordable Care Act), we start to remember the urgency that sometimes comes in waves. We start to open our eyes, and feel the significance we must place on every election, and every day following the election.
Our Congressional leaders need our leadership. They need us to show up, and need us to stay involved. They need us to tell them the truths of our community, and to hold them accountable every day to the things they promise us. They need this whether they’ve asked for it or not, this is our democratic right.
As you attend candidate forums, read flyers and voter guides, read through the politics and hear the candidates speak. Assess them by their values. The polls may be reading red, but with elections like these, polling assumes low voter turnout. Let’s show up and show that we are paying attention. With a civically engaged community. our leaders will have to listen.