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Thursday, June 21, 2018

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Midterm primaries key to shifting the tide of Texas politics


Advocates for political parties are getting the attention of voters at the primaries. | Courtesy of AJ Durrani

The upcoming primaries are fast approaching. Early voting began on Tuesday, and this whirlwind of political activity will decide the future of the offices of Texas’ governor, junior senator and countless other offices. The 2018 primaries hold up the stereotype of everything being bigger in Texas, each office has received plenty of candidates for each office, both Republican and Democratic.

The misconception of the government as a broken system has hindered many from voting or even lending themselves to this ideology of political efficacy, but the truth is the government caters to the needs of those who understand how to use it best for their purposes. It attends to the small minority that turns out routinely to polls and determines change in the grand scheme of things.

March 6, the first primary in the U.S., will determine the representatives and Senators who will support eventual 2020 presidential candidates on the race to the White House. The position of governor, lieutenant governor, land commissioner and railroad commissioner will be contested in this election, making primaries the most relevant decision to the lives of Houstonians and Texans.

Whether you’re an adversary or advocate of our current political administration, we are all bearing the consequences of it every day. Texas has among the lowest voter turn out in the country. The state routinely proves itself as detached from the electoral process. In 2016, Texas was ranked 42nd in voter turnout, making us among the lowest in the country.

“Local legislation very rarely looks like (its) constituency,” said Imaad Khan, a lobbyist for Texas Impact, which provides theologically grounded policy analysis.

This is a growing concern — that citizens will grow so disinterested in voting that representation will vary drastically from the needs of the communities they come from.

Registration for primaries has already ended, but voters can still vote in midterm elections once primaries have been decided. Registration for this ends April 5. There are booths for voting stationed in Downtown, Galleria, Katy, Cypress, and more. A complete list of locations is on harrisvotes.com.

Early voting has begun in several spots around Texas, including Katy, Downtown and Galleria | Courtesy of Chris Eudaily, Texas Public Radio News

Primaries pose an immense amount of power in the political climate. A major Texas publication for politics, The Texas Tribune, focuses a vast amount of effort and energy into primaries. I asked their Operations Manager why this was. “The general election becomes a more binary choice, but a primary presents itself as a nuanced possibility” John Jordans.There’s the potential to select a moderate or conservative member of either party.

Few Texans understand where to direct their frustration with the government. The default target is the federal level. This reasoning keeps them from investing in these upcoming primaries. This doesn’t feel like a coincidence: The rifts between rural and urban ideology and Democrat and Republican leave Texas, the once confidently red state, open to change if all these parties were to substantiate their beliefs with votes.

The schism within the two houses of Texas is apparent. The conservative mentality of the Senate tends to be balanced and diluted by the more moderate outlook found in the House of Representatives. The inherent issue in our political system is the lack of emphasis on voter engagement. Most voters probably don’t even realize who represents their district.

With 150 representatives in the House, it is far easier to use the broad brushstroke of democracy to umbrella yourself underneath all this representation. This lack of relationship leaves us so detached from our system that there is no inclination nor responsibility to vote. There’s a great deal of Texans not being represented by their representatives.

The approach of the primaries signals the opportunity to shape the upcoming elections.

“Due to gerrymandering, presidential nominees are often selected from primaries” said AJ Durrani, a Super Delegate of the Democratic National Party.

This forgotten and un-emphasized election paves the way for immense change and opportunity, yet we can’t seem to step away from our day to day concerns to vote for individuals who will control the laws, taxes, and regulations that dominate our lives.

Voting isn’t enough. As college students, we bear the responsibility of an educated vote. As beneficiaries of a system where our representation is determined by the people’s voice, not guns or hereditary lineages, we owe a great deal of debt to the portions of the world that are alien to democracy.

Opinion editor Anusheh Siddique is a finance freshman and can be reached at [email protected]

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