My, how things have changed since 2014.
In 2014, we saw riots in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, President Obama initiated relations with Cuba and a Malaysian Airlines flight mysteriously disappeared (wreckage was later found).
It was a time of racial strife and political division, with Ferguson serving as no small example. Yet strangely, the year 2014 – those days that are just behind us – may have been a more innocent time, don’t you think? It was a softer moment compared with today, a time when our nation’s divisions didn’t seem quite as fierce.
Four years later, our prior disconnect has grown to a yawning chasm. Today, President Trump’s Republican Party seems to have such a different worldview from the Democratic Party, you’ve almost got to wonder if we’re all living in the same reality.
What exactly are the key issues facing this country?
Should we be concerned with climate change or overreaction to scientists’ warnings? Racial issues and insensitivity or porous borders that need more attention? Xenophobia and misogyny gone off the rails or political correctness taken to an extreme? America first or America leading and cooperating with a community of nations? Are we inching towards fascism or towards the strength that’s needed to get things done?
This editorial went to the printer just before 11 worshiping Jews in Pittsburgh were shot dead, an unnecessary, hideous cruelty beyond imagination. For digital, we can add this: Gun control or guns for protection?
In 2014 many people, often living in their own bubbles, thought these were largely settled issues. We’d soon find out otherwise.
In March of 2014, Donald Trump tweeted, “While I won’t be running for Governor of New York State, a race I would have won, I have much bigger plans in mind – stay tuned, will happen.”
That was then, in the calm before the storm.
Maybe that relative calm is part of why turnout for the midterm elections of 2014 hit a 72-year low. A bottom-of-the-barrel 36.4 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2014 midterm elections, according to Time. The last time the midterm turnout was lower than the 36.4 percent in 2014 was during World War II, when much of the U.S. population was otherwise engaged.
Now, for the 2018 midterm elections, turnout is expected to break records. Experts say it could hit as high as 45 to 50 percent.
That’s good, right? It’s unfortunate we’re so divided, that those divisions are what’s driving us to vote, but increased participation in democracy is a silver lining.
If you don’t typically vote in midterm elections, why not take this chance to join in? Voting gives us all a chance to be heard on important issues and it fulfills our civic responsibility.
Wisconsin is an important state and this is an important year. We’re plotting the future direction of this country, whatever you believe. We’re plotting U.S. policies toward Israel, too.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6 and early voting is already open! Don’t forget to vote, urge others to vote and remember to bring your identification – it’s now required in Wisconsin.
Rob Golub is editor of the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.