What About the Midterm?

Justin Doucette, Copy Editor

Every two years, millions of Americans flock to their local election centers to cast ballots in anticipation of making a change (or continuity) in public policy.


Like many years before, many Americans feel as though this is the “last chance” to combat government tyranny and oppression.


There are numerous key issues at stake in regards to this election, such as reproductive rights and the risk of climate change for many Democrats; the right of religious individuality and economic stability for many Republicans.


For everyone, however, there is a fear that democracy and individual liberty are in serious danger of being stripped.


Where We Stand


The Pentucket towns of Merrimac, West Newbury, and Groveland fall into the 6th Congressional District of Massachusetts, as well as the 14th Essex District.


These districts provide voters with adequate representation of community needs, wants, and beliefs. For further assurance of representation, government is divided into state and national legislatures; The first district of Massachusetts stands to elect members to the United States House of Representatives, whereas the county district elects members to a state legislature. 


Aside from House and Senate representatives, what else do Americans vote for? In this election, voters were asked to vote for the positions of Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Treasurer, along with numerous other elected positions that are described below.


The Jobs, the Names, the Ballot


The ballot provided to the 14th Essex District of Massachusetts will ask for a vote on:


The Governor, who is responsible for implementing laws of the state and proposing legislation. On top of that, governors oversee the state executive branch and revise programs and policies. 


It is the goal of Geoff Diehl, Republican Governor candidate, to “lower the cost of living” in Massachusetts, as well as to fight federal intervention in state processes, such as “unfair mandates” that inhibit personal liberties. He wants the residents of Massachusetts to live in a state of economic prosperity, all while obtaining individuality from the Federal and State governments.


Like Diehl, democratic candidate Maura Healey finds the rising cost of living in Massachusetts an issue. Her primary focus on combating inflation includes expanding affordable housing and investing in public transportation. In addition, she hopes to implement “affordable, universal child care,” as well as tackle the climate crisis and increase mental health services provided by the state. 


Unlike the others, libertarian candidate Kevin Reed is a “father, business owner, and proud working-class candidate” who hopes to invigorate Massachusetts residents with the spirit of hard work rather than reliance on the government. His campaign revolves around the importance of liberty and individualism; turning away from the “incredibly fake” politics of the modern times, and taking action in one’s own life. 


The Attorney General, most notably, investigates and prosecutes crime. However, their job description includes numerous other activities, such as protecting consumers, combating corruption and fraud, and ensuring civil rights. The best summary for an Attorney General is a public official who acts as an advocate and resource for state citizens.


Democrat attorney general candidate, Andrea Joy Campbell, strives for “opportunity for all. Justice for all,” and has made it her mission to ensure the citizens of Massachusetts a government that can solve problems and restore faith in the ability of public officials to do their jobs.


Republican candidate Jay McMahon, in contrast, has sworn himself to “take an oath to preserve and defend” both United States and Massachusetts Constitutions, which cover a broad range of laws spanning from the liberties of speech and religion, to civil rights legislation, to democracy as a whole. 


The Secretary of State, or Commonwealth, is a position not found all across the country, which makes Massachusetts somewhat unique in comparison to its stately counterparts. The Secretary of State is the “chief clerk” and “primary custodian of important state records,” in addition to enforcing law and overseeing elections.


William Francis Galvin is the Democratic candidate for the Secretary of State office, where he moves to expand voting access and preserve the history of the Commonwealth through “preservation, restoration and archival efforts.”


In contrast to the efforts of Galvin, Republican candidate Rayla Campbell strives to “forge a platform that will unite [citizens of Massachusetts] in shared prosperity and ensure a seat at the table in state politics.” She believes the Commonwealth should have “fair and clean elections” with “accessibility to the office,” meaning an office for the people, rather than special interests.


Member of the Green-Rainbow party, Juan Sanchez wants to provide minorities with effective representation, improve the ability to vote by “delivering information in multiple languages,” and lead an office of progressive reform in regards to elections and finances.


Not surprisingly, the Treasurer is the “chief financial officer” of the state, and handles municipal funds through deposits, investments, and disbursement. For this position, Deborah B. Goldberg (D) and Christina Crawford (L) are candidates. 


The job of the state Auditor is to “promote accountability and transparency” within the government. The Auditor is responsible for conducting audits and investigations that will, in turn, improve government function. The people running are as listed below:



Beyond representing one’s congressional district, a Representative in Congress drafts and introduces bills to become legislation and serves on committees regarding specific areas of legislation. For a two year term, a congressional representative will serve as a voice of the people which s/he represents and fight for essential legislation to be passed. 


Those running for representative include Democratic candidate Seth Moulton, Republican Bob May, and Third party Libertarian Mark Tashjian.


The other offices up for election include Councilor, Senator and Representative in General Court, District Attorney, and Sheriff


Big Results


Democrat Maura Healey is the successor of former Governor Charlie Baker, who served Massachusetts starting in 2015. 


Baker, a right-leaning independent, represented a balance in the Massachusetts legislature between Democrats and Republicans, one that allowed all members of the Commonwealth to feel accurately represented in one way, shape, or form. Many of his policies prioritized “downtown and regional economic development, allowed small business to become more competitive… and delivered critical tax relief… through a doubling of the Earned Income Tax Credit.”


Along with numerous policies implemented and enforced by Baker, he also was able to avoid raising taxes on Massachusetts residents, which is what gained him much traction throughout his career. 


In contrast to the values and policies of Baker, however, Healey looks more observantly at social issues, and many of her plans, as outlined above and in her website, would include redistribution of government funding or the raising of taxes.


At a time of heightened economic inflation and fear of a depression, an increase in taxes is heavily unfavorable. However, there is hope that her policy ambitions of a Child Tax Credit, Economic Development, the Climate, and Housing will not raise taxes through the roof for residents.


As every election in Massachusetts turned blue, it is questionable whether both Democratic and Republican citizens will receive adequate, equal representation. 




While constituents vote for their elected officials, they also vote on specific issues that are answered in the form of “yes” or “no.”


Question 1 addresses the problem of wealth distribution in Massachusetts, proposing an “additional 4% tax” on any form of income exceeding $1 million. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts claims this tax will be used to supplement public education and transport costs, however, it is highly likely the money would be distributed elsewhere.


It is apparent in our society that the rich and wealthy grow more and more separated from the poor and desperate as time goes on, making it harder for upward financial mobility. It is true that, in the state of Massachusetts, “all income [is taxed] at the same rate.” However, people are taxed by ranges and percentages, meaning a cashier at Market Basket and the CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital are not both paying the same in taxes. Rather, they are paying the government according to their amount of taxable income.


Taxable income is what millionaires contort when tax time comes around. In order to “evade” such massive bills from the state and federal governments, people who are fiscally educated move their money around in charities, non-profit organizations, and invest into assets, which lowers their previously massive amount of taxable income, allowing them to get major tax cuts. 


Massachusetts voted, as of November 9 at 8:50 AM, 51.8% “yes” on Question 1, meaning millionaires will now have an increased tax.


Question 2 speaks about the regulation of dental insurance, where businesses are meant to “submit loss ratios” and “refund excess premiums” if the loss ratio exceeds 81%. 


Simply speaking, this bill proposes most of the money used to pay for actual dental care goes to dental care, rather than administrative costs and company revenue. 


Now, to anyone who pays for dental insurance, a “yes” vote seems almost necessary. However, when one reads between the lines, it becomes evident that this piece of legislation may force dental companies to increase rates for those paying without insurance, thus driving up prices within the dental market as a whole. 


As of November 9, 9:04 AM, 71.2% of Massachusetts residents have voted “yes” on Question 2, meaning dental insurance rates will be regulated. 


Question 3 asks whether or not liquor licenses for retail should be regulated. The bill at hand would increase the number of liquor licenses to be given from 9 to 18 in 2031. 


Some business owners find this bill as a way to expand their revenues as well as demographic. However, there is a downside to increased licensing when looking at location and small business. 


There is a fear that a larger store, like Market Basket, for example, may attempt to obtain a liquor license. In that case, more people would presumably flock to get Market Basket alcohol because it could be cheaper than in a small store like Gerry’s Variety, and they would not have to make two separate stops for groceries and luxuries. This increased competition may kill smaller businesses, which would be a negative.


On another page, people are worried that more liquor stores will pop up and “trash up [their] towns,” which is a plausible argument when looking at Groveland, a town of 6,752, already having four liquor stores. 


On Question 3, 55% of voters, as of 9:32 AM on November 9, said “no,” meaning this bill is unlikely to become a piece of legislation. 


Question 4 causes a major point of contention, and continues to be a “hot topic,” given that it confronts the question of voter security by proposing illegal immigrants not be provided with a true form of identification for voting. This specifically addresses the issue of immigrants obtaining driver’s licenses, which are used as a form of voter-identification.


In short, this question would allow immigrants who are not citizens to vote in national elections.


Those who support this piece of legislation point out that providing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants would not only serve in their own interests, but “improve safety for everyone on the road” in the sense that, to name an example, one could not simply just drive away when a hit and run has taken place, whereas, without a license, it becomes easier to “flee the scene.”


Driver safety may only be a small part of the issue, but it serves as backup for the overall argument to supply undocumented immigrants with true forms of identification. Supporters of this bill suggest that not allowing those who are undocumented or not citizens to vote is discrimination, as it puts up “barriers to naturalization.” They also argue voting for illegal immigrants “promotes policy that benefits society as a whole.”


On the other hand, citizens are concerned for the safety of communities and the protection of democracy; without lawful presence, one can fly under the radar of background checks, possibly allowing a violent offender to remain undetected in a certain area, and vote for policies that may take away from the lives of citizens. The major concern is that undocumented individuals will cut through hedges that pose various threats to those who are consistently subjected to government policies.


Many conservatives find non-citizen voting to “dilute the value of citizenship,” and pose the question of, were an American to move outside of the country, should s/he have a say in the affairs of that country without first becoming a citizen?


As of 2:22 PM on November 8, 53.7% of Massachusetts voters said “yes,” which upholds the law that illegal immigrants can obtain true forms of identification and vote in elections.


Importance of Voting on Midterms


Not many people usually turn out to vote when a president is not at stake. However, these congressional elections are even more important to policy making than one would expect.


The president, despite what many believe, has little authority over most legislation besides his “veto” stamp. The president’s main job on the home front is to mobilize party support and keep the spirits of the public high, as well as protect national security. 


Congresspersons, on the other hand, are the ones who draft, edit, and debate bills in hopes of having an effect on local, state, national, or international policy. 


Senators and house members do the most when it comes to policy making, which is why voter turnout is essential to elections where house and senate seats are at stake.


Members of the government who are elected on a smaller scale typically allow their constituents greater representation within congress, as their ideas and understandings of policy are generally more in line with the needs of their voters. 


On a National Scale


The midterm election was one plagued with turmoil and political strife, as both Republicans and Democrats were battling for the preservation of democracy. Republicans were expecting a red wave, given that it is historically common for the party whose president is in power to lose seats in Congress, in addition to a nationally-spread dissatisfaction with President Biden. 


While the House is currently more conservative, it appears there was more of a “Red Ripple,” as Governors are about equal in seats, and the senate is slightly more blue. This could mean a number of things, including first time voters being overwhelmingly democrats, more democrats turning out to vote due to reproductive rights and climate issues, higher confidence in democratic candidates, or a general shift in political thought toward a more liberal agenda. 


There are numerous other possibilities as to why this midterm election drew as close as it did in comparison to other midterms. However, what matters now is how the government will function with a congress almost divided exactly in two.


The House now has a conservative majority, which directly means that Nancy Pelosi is no longer speaker of the House. On a larger scale, however, the House will now be able to pass more conservative legislation, and block more liberal policies from passing; House members of the GOP can block any left-leaning bill from entering the Senate or seeing the executive office, which would be a major win for many conservatives. 


On the other hand, the senate is, as of 8:59 AM on November 14, tied. Thus, Senate bills are more likely to be a good balance of right and left leaning. Although, since bills must be passed in both congressional houses before being sent to the president, there is a slight possibility that, given the circumstances, a majority of the bills sent to the president will be right-leaning. 


That is not always the case, however. The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act was one of a kind, as the idea was proposed by George W. Bush and drafted by two known Republicans. This bill would have been “dead on arrival” had Edward Kennedy, Democratic senator, not signed the bill. With that, the bill was passed into legislation with bipartisan support. In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, was passed with bipartisan support in congress. In 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act passed easily through both congressional chambers with bipartisan support. 


In the grand scheme of things, the results of this election do not mean much, hence why midterm elections are the most unpopular and have the lowest turnout for voters. That being said, the progression and results of this election highlight the divide in American politics.


This division in politics makes the development and implementation of policy increasingly difficult, as policymakers are unable to agree on bills and legislation. This stalemate and gridlock is a negative when it comes to the public, as the needs of the population will likely come secondary to beliefs of representatives.


It is the hope that, despite the close division of American politics, representatives and policymakers will come together and work for the betterment of the United States.