I am Andrew Levinson and I live in the suburbs of New York City. Here in the United States, we just completed elections that involved the entire country.
I have long been involved in politics, starting as an intern for a Washington, D.C.-area Congressman, while still in high school, and then involving myself in campaigns in the New York City area during and after my days as a Political Science student at Hofstra University. Through my involvement in politics and journalism, I am able to pursue my passion of writing on and researching about public policy issues.
While local and regional elections occurred on November 4th, known as the Midterms (located in between consecutive, presidential election cycles), the highest profile contests involved control of the national legislature or U.S. Congress. The Republican Party, one of two main political parties in my country won control of both the lower house of Congress, known as the House of Representatives, and the upper house, called the Senate. On the contrary, the Democratic Party, which has more of a center-left ideology than the more center-right Republican Party, lost control of the Senate and failed to win back control of the House.
The reason that this year’s campaign was personal to me is that I was assisting with constituent concerns for U.S. Representative Steve Israel, the Chairman of the campaign arm for the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. Through research and concise writing about complex policy issues, whether related to education reform, traffic enforcement, disability policy, or host of other issues, I created templates that were used as responses to constituent concerns about Representative Israel’s policy concerns. This was done in an effort to build support for the candidate’s re-election.
Despite a tough Election Day for congressional Democrats, I am pleased to report that Representative Israel won reelection.
To me, Election Day is not just about whether or not your candidate wins. It is also about a fundamental exercise in citizenship and democracy. For a community like ours which is sometimes marginalized a successful trip to the polls is a rare moment of perfect equality in a democratic society. In my neighborhood, every attempt is made to ensure physical access to voting. In the United States, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) plays an important role in ensuring access to the vote for various sections of American society. According to the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), “…HAVA is more than an election reform statute; it is a civil rights law. It gave individuals with disabilities what no other previous civil rights statute had given before: the right to participate in elections as other voters do and to cast a private and independent ballot.”
I look forward to 2015 bringing forth the same joy of participation for my friends in the UK and Canada who will have their turn in the spotlight of global democracy, with their own national elections. No matter which party or candidate you support, I highly recommend getting involved in the important battle of ideas and values that elections bring forth. Furthermore, there is no better exercise of democracy and love for one’s country and political system than helping out a campaign and/or voting.
By Andrew Levinson