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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Editorial - 11/11

Midterm elections do not inspire quite as much media buzz and public interest as its quadrennial counterpart, the presidential election. And in some regards, they should not — there is not any one race on the ballot which everyone in the nation votes on, nor are we determining anything as important as who will serve as our Commander-in-Chief for the next four years. But midterm elections are nonetheless a crucial part of our political system, as they ensure that no Congress can serve for more than two years without being held accountable for its actions. Last week’s midterm election was devastating to the Democratic Party, who, while maintaining a majority in the Senate, saw their control of the House disintegrate before their eyes, rematerializing on Wednesday the 3rd as a sizeable Republican majority. Meanwhile, the 18-24 age bracket turned out in record lows to vote in this less-than-flashy but still vitally important election.

It is heartening to know that such apathy was not present at Middlebury. Both the College Democrats and Republicans held numerous voter registration drives, phone drives and demonstrations in preparation for the early November judgment day. Part of the reason our age bracket continuously has such a poor voter turnout is the vast number of college students who go to school outside of their home state and never get around to submitting their absentee ballot. Our College political organizations have recognized the need to inform the student body of absentee voting procedure and encourage them to perform their democratic duty in an often underappreciated election.

Additionally, the Republicans and Democrats organized extensively and strategically for the Vermont gubernatorial election. As students at a Vermont institution, all Middlebury students are allowed to vote either in Vermont or in their home state. Only switching students to vote in Vermont whose state elections were heavily favored for the Democratic candidate, the College Democrats hoped to generate as much support as possible for Democratic candidate Peter Shumlin. Ultimately, Shumlin prevailed over Republican Brian Dubie, but not for the Republicans’ lack of effort. Door-to-door campaigning, phone banking and candidate forums — all from an age bracket Dubie probably assumed he had already lost.

At a college where there are more students from outside the country than from inside the state, it’s heartening to see such passion for the politics of the state we live in. It may surprise some students to know that Vermont, widely considered to be among the most liberal in the nation, has had a Republican governor for the past eight years, despite three Democrats in the U.S. Congress (actually, two Democrats and one Socialist) and a solidly Democratic state legislature during the majority of his tenure. The College Democrats should take pride in knowing that they helped elect Vermont’s first Democratic governor since Howard Dean.

And regardless of your political leanings, it’s an incredible opportunity to have that four-term Republican governor, Jim Douglas ’72, coming to Middlebury as our new executive in residence. A resident of Middlebury and graduate of the College, Douglas’ political career expands far beyond his time as governor. If he brings the same expertise and passion to academia that he had for politics, his Winter Term course, “Vermont Government and Politics,” will be an invaluable opportunity to politically inclined students at Middlebury.

Ultimately, it’s heartening to know that at Middlebury, our passion for politics doesn’t live and die on the four-year presidential election cycle. We’re proud of both the College Republicans and Democrats for getting out the vote, and we congratulate both parties on their respective victories.


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