The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday August 19th

Column: Hope after midterms

 The 2018 midterms were the first election I voted in, and the first major election since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., which forever changed the community I grew up in

I could see this transformation almost 800 miles away in Chapel Hill. Young people flocked to the polls in my city, posting selfies of their “I Voted” stickers and encouraging others to join them. My parents voted in the midterms for the first time alongside me. The movement the students in Parkland started seemed to transcend South Florida, reaching every corner of the nation. 

So that’s why, despite the profound gains Democrats made last night, it was hard not to cut off all ties with my home state. 

To recap, Florida elected Rick Scott over our incumbent senator Bill Nelson, and Ron DeSantis over progressive star Andrew Gillum for governor, all with razor-thin margins. DeSantis’s racially-charged campaign seemed to be based solely off of him being liked by Trump. A state that’s less than 10 feet above sea level in most places elected representatives who refuse to acknowledge, or even believe, in climate change. Both are NRA-backed politicians, a slap in the face to the Parkland community who worked so tirelessly to advocate for gun control. 

Trump’s election wasn’t a fluke – his ideology is very much alive throughout the country. 

And to any Texans reading this right now, I feel you.

But substantial change takes time. It builds up. It doesn’t happen overnight, or even over one election. But the change we made last night, despite these high-profile losses, are worth celebrating. The tide is changing and we witnessed history last night. 

Democrats took over the House. Two Muslim-American women will be sworn in. Massachusetts elected its first Black congresswoman, and New York elected the youngest female congresswoman in history. Florida gave more than a million disenfranchised citizens their right to vote back. The razor-thin margins in Florida, Arizona and especially deep-red Texas are outstanding. 

There’s a lot to be proud of, and it transcends who we elected into office and the amendments we passed. Young voters showed up in record numbers, demanding change and taking charge of their futures. Young people have effectively taken over the conversation, and we’re making sure we’ll be heard. 

I think about the change we’ve enacted since February, just eight months ago, when that gunman first entered the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It seems like a lifetime ago. Then I think about what can happen in two years, and then another two years after that, and then for the rest of our lifetimes. If anything, it fills me with hope. 

It’s not over for Andrew Gillum, Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams – they have bright political futures ahead of them, and as their supporters, it serves us best to know they aren’t going anywhere. 

Neither is our fight to make America a better, safer place for everyone.

When I turned in my absentee ballot, I voted for my future. I voted for my community. I voted for members of my community who can’t and never will. And I think the results from last night, and what we are capable of accomplishing after, will make all of them proud.  

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