The 2018 Midterm was serious business. Cornell has been a roaring fire of political intensity for the last two weeks. Opinion columnists (I’m sure you can guess the specific ones) have been yelling all night. More of my friends voted than I thought possible, although some Cornellians — either disillusioned with the political process (fine, but a weak excuse) or simply disinterested (c’mon) — never filled out a ballot. Although we probably won’t get a true break from electioneering until after the 2020 race, I’ll be content with clearing my inbox of daily asks for campaign donations and “shockingly new analysis” from pollsters and Nate Silver himself.
At the point of writing, the next holders of many of the 470 federal offices on the ballot this year have been decided. Beginning with Kentucky at 6 p.m., polls have closed across the country, with Democrats taking the House and Republicans consolidating their control of the Senate. Perhaps even more important than these federal elections, though, are state elections, which will have more numerous and longer-lasting implications. In the midst of our current political divisions, state governments not only provide a place for opponents of federal policies to try out their own policies, but state attorneys general have increasingly used their offices to launch legal challenges against the actions and policies of presidential administrations. It is not just in their role as laboratories of democracy, though, that the results of state elections will play an important role in future elections.
Tonight, when election results start rolling in, professional pundits and party power-players will descend upon their studio desks and bleak backrooms to opine on and debate the implications of this election for the one that will take place just under two years from now. Attempts to divine the electorate’s views on President Trump will be especially earnest within the Democratic Party, still recovering from a 2016 election in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes but lost the electoral college by fewer than 80,000 aggregate votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. From the moment polls close, the varying successes and failures of unabashed liberals running in traditionally-red states (such as Beto O’Rourke, Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum) and the staying power of their moderate counterparts in increasingly-red states (namely Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)) will be compared and contrasted in an attempt to divine which type of candidate would have the best chance to defeat President Trump. In the face of these inevitable electability prognostications, though, I want to offer my fellow Democrats my view on what what characteristics the party’s nominee in 2020 should have. In an election in which it feels like the fate of the country, not to mention the fate of the millions whose lives have already been negatively affected by a Trump presidency, the Democratic nominee for president of the United States in 2020 should have the courage to be bold and the willingness to acknowledge nuance.
This week’s midterm elections will be among the most consequential in recent memory. At stake is nothing less than the direction of our democracy and our nation. The past two years have not been easy for many Americans — the Trump administration has embarked on a substantial rollback of rights and protections for women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and more. Congress tried repeatedly (though unsuccessfully) to repeal the lifesaving Affordable Care Act, and succeeded in passing in passing a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of working people. And a growing but still fragile economy finds itself at the mercy of a capricious administration’s trade policy.
Mitrano worked as the Director of Information Technology Policy at Cornell University from 2001 to 2014. According to her website, she is responsible for some of the “first-generation” higher education information security policies.
My name is Tracy Mitrano. I am the Democratic challenger running for Congress in New York’s 23rd District against Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). I write to urge every Cornellian to take the midterm elections seriously. If and how you vote on November 6 could well determine the kind of society and political culture that will shape your lives for decades to come. Running for political office takes grit, determination, clear vision and, most of all, strong personal values.
As the dust settles from left-wing insurgent Cynthia Nixon’s much-anticipated rally in downtown Ithaca on September 1, many local progressives appear confident that the long-shot Cuomo challenger can pull off a surprise win in the looming gubernatorial primary. Think Ocasio-Cortez’s dramatic June victory against powerful Democratic centrist Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district, but on a much larger scale. Nixon’s unprecedented pledge to convert the Cayuga Power Plant into a renewable energy facility drew particular praise among the local left, distinguishing herself as the lone gubernatorial candidate who harbors bold progressive visions for oft-forgotten upstate communities. That being said, Cuomo retains strong polling numbers and an iron-lock grip on state politics. Given the strong likelihood he’ll sail into a third-term with relatively limited bruising, it would be wise for progressives to leverage Nixon’s growing appeal to demand policy concessions from the sitting governor — both until and after the primary vote results are announced on September 13.