Republicans gain control of Congress

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art by Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi
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Election brings adjustments to Missouri law

When most people think of the midterm elections, they think of the usual elections for the House of Representatives and judges.
However, one of the issues that garnered the most attention in Columbia during this campaign season was Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3, which proposed to “require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system.” Missouri voters struck down the amendment at 76 percent, with Boone County voting 81 percent against it.

“I would like to see legislation that corrects the paradoxes within our civil rights and also congress taking a stand when it comes to upholding the Second Amendment.” —Jack Knoesel

As of early September, a Gallup poll places Americans’ approval of Congress at 14 percent. This incredibly low number was likely one of the major factors that caused midterm elections for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to swing decisively toward the GOP, with Republicans maintaining control of the House and garnishing a newfound majority in the Senate.
“I’m excited about the outcome,” RBHS Young Republicans’ president Jack Knoesel said. “I’m just waiting to see if [Congress] can get any legislation through. I would like to see legislation that corrects the paradoxes within our civil rights and also congress taking a stand when it comes to upholding the Second Amendment.”While the Republicans celebrate this new change, Democrats do not harbor similar sentiments. RBHS Young Democrats’ president Betsy Poehlmann found the results disappointing, however she took interest in more local measures as well.
“Well I really liked that the amendment over education did not pass because that was stupid,” Poehlmann said. “I’m also really disappointed that the early voting didn’t get extended, and that Republicans now run Congress.”
Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2 was passed at 71 percent, winning every Missouri county. The amendment states that it would be “permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under 18 years of age” in Missouri courts.

infographic by Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi
infographic by Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi
Some see this amendment to be in direct violation with the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that states “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Due process normally wouldn’t allow courts to make assumptions based on previous convictions.
“I believe it isn’t fair if the person has already been tried and the verdict has already been stated, then I don’t believe it to be right to bring [it] up again in another trial,” junior Marco Rea said. “I can see the whole ‘He’s done it before or accused of it before, so why not again?’ But I don’t agree with it being brought up again; I don’t see it to be fair or just.
By Luke Chval

Midterm elections bring changes to 114th Congress

A new face of government took center stage as the results of this year’s midterm elections, completed on Tues., Nov. 4, fostered a new Republican identity.
The GOP made sweeping gains in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, U.S. history teacher and Young Democrats sponsor Bryn Orton said, and now hold an overwhelming majority in Congress.
In addition, Republicans also won three additional governorships in comparison to the last election cycle. However, Orton said, Republicans are not completely responsible for this shift.
“Democrats did a really bad job of selling America on the good things they had done because if you look at the state of America compared to the rest of the world, including Western Europe, America is pretty strong right now,” Orton said. “We’re drilling more oil than we ever have, which is a Republican thing, but it’s been done under a Democratic president. The American dollar looks really good. We’re coming out of a recession way better than a lot of other places. Gay rights is going in the right direction. Somehow Democrats didn’t take advantage of that, and people felt like they did a terrible job.”
Regardless of the reasoning, the Republican gains were not unexpected. Preceding the election, analyst Nate Silver stated there was a 75 percent chance Republicans would gain complete control of the senate, and as expected, Republicans gained a majority in Congress.
Some people, like RBHS Young Republicans treasurer Libby Stauffer, attribute the change to President Barack Obama’s job performance.
According to the Gallup Research Institute, President Obama, a Democrat, averaged a 49 percent approval rating during his first term. So far in his second term, his approval rating has averaged around 40 percent, down nine percent from last term, highlighting a dip in popularity.
“People have been upset with the way government has been handling things lately. They haven’t been getting much done,” Stauffer said. “They want things to change and get better. They are disappointed by Obama and they know Republicans can get the country back on track.”
However, the impact of this new dynamic is still unclear. With Republicans in control of Congress, Young Democrats member Michelle Yang predicts the federal government will be undergoing change and the nation will head in a new direction. But even though Republicans now hold a majority in both houses, Yang believes Democratic legislation and policies will still be enacted.
“The only thing everyone seems to be talking about is the Republican takeover of Senate,” Yang said. “But I think there is more to it than that. Now there’s a divided government, and Obama seems to be taking more aggressive action as a result. That will have a significant impact on the country and Obama’s new immigration plan is a perfect example of it.”

“People don’t have any confidence in government, especially in Congress. People feel like it doesn’t matter. It’s hard to argue against that. We’ve been swinging back and forth between heavily Republican and heavily Democrat for a while now, and it doesn’t seem to result in any clear changes. I think America is tired of politics now.”—Bryn Orton

Recently, President Obama passed an executive order which protects up to five million undocumented citizens from deportation. But despite this, Stauffer said, the recent win by Republicans indicates a shift to a more Republican future for the nation.
“More Republicans in Congress is a good thing. People are tired and they want things to get better,” Stauffer said. “They voted Republican because they see things aren’t changing and they want them to. I think this election shows that there’s a good chance of a Republican president next term.
However, the shift to a more Republican congress wasn’t the only change this election cycle. Women, from both parties, won more elections nationwide and now hold more seats in congress than ever before. Despite this, there has been some debate among critics as to whether this number merits celebration. Women now hold 100 of the 535 seats in Congress, but some say this is still too small a number to be declared progress. Others, like Yang, believe this increase is indicative of change and a more equal nation.
“I’m happy women got more votes because there needs to be equal representation in our government,” Yang said. “This is a step towards that, and I think the inclusion of women paves the way for the inclusion of more minorities which desperately need representation.”
Besides the increase in Republican and women congressmen, another surprise was the low voter turnout. In 38 states, voter turnout decreased from the last election, and no state had more than 60 percent of its voter population cast ballots. Traditionally, fewer people vote in midterm elections when compared to presidential elections, but with only 36 percent of eligible voters turning up at polls. This election hosted the lowest voter turnout in 72 years.
“People don’t have any confidence in government, especially in Congress. People feel like it doesn’t matter,” Orton said. “It’s hard to argue against that. We’ve been swinging back and forth between heavily Republican and heavily Democrat for a while now, and it doesn’t seem to result in any clear changes. I think America is tired of politics now.”
Voter turnout was especially a problem with the young. From all who voted, only 13 percent were under 30. This, both Stauffer and Yang agree, needs to change. It is especially important, Stauffer said, for the youth to take an active interest and participate in current events.
“It’s important for us to know about what’s going on in the country. We need to care,” Stauffer said. “We’re going to be the ones making the decisions and make changes one day. We’re the future of America.”
“It’ll be interesting because Republicans are going to want to get a lot done. It seems like most people in Congress are aware now that everyone is fed up with Congress because they’re not getting a lot done. But they also have this thing where they don’t want to get passed under Obama’s presidency because the presidential election is coming up. Hopefully they’ll rise above all that political nonsense.”
By Humera Lodhistudent voices congress