ELECTION 2018: No balance without change, freshman says

Nov 02, 2018

The weight of the upcoming midterm elections can be felt all over the country, even on Claflin University’s campus.
Aleona McQueen, freshman mass communications major from Jacksonville, Florida, already sent in her absentee ballot but only recently learned about the importance of the midterm elections.

“Every time presidential elections came up, I was told ‘Hey! This is a thing. Keep an eye on it.’ It wasn’t until high school that I hit learning about midterm elections and was told to keep an eye on that. And I was like ‘Oh, there’s more than one election.’ This is something they should teach in elementary,” McQueen said.

According to the social studies pacing guides of Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5, government is taught in only third and fourth grade during one week, usually in the latter days of November. The focus is on the structure of the branches and understanding what each branch is responsible for. The one-week lesson does not include attention to the structure and importance of voting. The fifth-grade pacing guide does not include any mention of government or civic engagement.

While voting was always encouraged by her mother, McQueen notes the current state of politics as a major reason to vote.

“My mom was really big on getting my older sister to vote when she turned 18 and now that I’m of age, she’s telling me to vote. Looking at cases like Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump, the #MeToo cases, and how heavy the political climate is right now, it’s kind of important that we get out and vote.”

McQueen recalls a time in high school when she was getting ice cream with her friends and they received news of President Donald Trump tweeting about nuclear war as a time that incited her to reflect on who is in power and how to balance the other Republican-dominated branches.

“Everything is Republican run, which is not a fair balance in how the country is,” McQueen said.  “So we’ve got to get them out.”

Republicans currently hold majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. All 435 seats of the House are up for election while in the Senate, Democrats must defend 26 seats and Republicans only nine. The seat for District 6, which includes 76 percent of Orangeburg, County, is being fought over by incumbent Democratic Rep. James Clyburn and Republican challenger Gerhard Gressmann.

McQueen recognizes the efforts of student leaders and upperclassmen on campus as vital to pushing civic engagement, specifically at a voter registration event hosted by the NAACP and SGA.

“[They] are on it in the cafeteria like ‘OK guys, I need you to understand that even if you don’t live in South Carolina, it’s good to understand your surroundings because you go to school here and if you don’t vote at all, it could affect your money, how the school is run, how the state is run and how the United States is run.”

Despite a majority of Claflin’s student population calling South Carolina home, McQueen urges out-of-state students to vote in their local elections.

“If you’re voting absentee, keep up with your state. Figure out what’s going on there, because when you go home after college it could be a whole different world depending on who is in office.”

In response to news of voter-suppression tactics, such as purging voters without notification, erasure of transgender people and disenfranchisement of Native American voters popping up all over the country, McQueen says people must utilize their right to vote. “Get out there and fight them.”

For more information about S.C.elections, visit https://www.scvotes.org/, for a customized ballot based on your address visit https://vote-usa.org/, and for an overview of candidates visit http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm

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