Category: Elections

Elections help us generate community and feel connected to people who are like us. There is nothing more natural in human instinct and behavior than to establish ourselves as a part of some group. We endlessly identify ourselves as parts of groups we value or see as like us. We publicly signal our gender, our team loyalty, our occupation, our income status, and even our political party, to those seeking to figure out how to categorize us.

By participating in elections, we can be a part of a community. We can participate in an event that our neighbors are participating in. We can identify ourselves as part of a group that we value (whether that’s voters, Democrats, Republicans, or people who like donuts on Tuesdays). Elections give us a way to be a part of something, and this is an essential part of being human.

Elections help us participate in civic culture. Civic culture includes any activity that goes on in the place where you live that affects how you live. Whether you are skeptical of the civics around you and seek to change them, or you value the civics around you and want to encourage them, the institutions that make up your community are a part of your civics.

Elections are a way to engage with those institutions and participate in key aspects of your well-being. Midterm elections are not one election, but 10,000 local elections held by every community in the country at the same time. This is a powerful opportunity to connect to the people around us.

Elections are a means of individual and group expression. The right to express oneself is deeply embedded in American culture. The First Amendment to the Constitution talks about a right to individual speech and expression, and it’s one of the most valued rights Americans have.

When one cannot freely express themselves, they are restricted, restrained, or censored in a way that is antithetical to a free society. Expression comes in many forms, and whether it’s truly a function of individual agency or not, it’s an important component of human experience.

Elections are the key mechanism we have to express ourselves. Even if those feelings are misguided, based on falsehoods, fickle, or fleeting, the opportunity to be counted is strongly valued and has a revered place in America.

Jennifer Victor, What Good Are Elections Anyway