Recently, the U.S. midterm election results have dominated international news. But what do the midterms mean for us as UBCO students?
Firstly, it is important to understand what the midterm elections are. Midterm elections occur halfway between every presidential election; all 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for election every two years, as are 1/3rd of U.S. senators, who serve six-year terms.
Midterm elections determine which party will control the legislature for the next two years, or in other words: who will be passing the laws until the 2020 election. Often, the midterms also determine whether the president (Trump, in this case) will be able to pass laws as easily as their first two years in office.
Canadians should have been anxiously watching the results because they are a good indicator of what awaits Canada in the 2019 federal election and what Canada’s future may hold. An international far-right populist movement has been taking hold in many countries based on anti-immigrant and nationalist sentiments. Countries from America to Brazil to Italy have recently seen these movements take over their countries, and this movement has also been rising in Canadian society.
Before reading my perspective, it is important for students to do research to draw their own conclusions on whether and how much they agree with the far-right, but the movement is calling for serious, radical changes to society which shouldn’t be ignored.
For UBCO, significant gains for the far-right in 2019 could mean big changes: tuition rates for international students would possibly skyrocket (yes, worse than right now); discrimination against foreigners and non-whites would become more common and acceptable; women could see an increase in misogynistic, patriarchal trends; and Canadian social programs giving families and/or students the leeway to afford their tuition could be eliminated. Other major changes would also be on the table.
For those who fear these consequences, last week’s midterms are a good sign. Statistically, young people and women, especially college educated women, voted in America more than ever before in a midterm election.
It is not yet clear whether this is just a one-time instance of anti-Trump backlash or a new trend, but if it is a bigger movement (which we’ll find out in 2019/2020), politics in America and Canada could be changing.
With unprecedented numbers of African American women, Latinos, Native Americans and LGBTQ candidates winning in the U.S. (even in conservative states), elected representatives are starting to reflect actual demographics instead of being dominated by white males. Canada may be ahead of the U.S. in this aspect, but the threat of the far-right still looms.
The U.S. midterm results are a call to action for young, female and minority Canadians: the far-right may be resurging, but there is hope for those who feel disenfranchised by the movement. If enough of these Canadians show up in 2019, the progressive beacon of the Americas will be able to look back on history and declare that they avoided falling to a movement that is toppling democratic regimes across the globe.