Most people pay attention during presidential election cycles and many of them come out to vote. The numbers are not as healthy during midterm elections (40% v. 60%). In spite of voter turnout, the results of midterm elections tend to affect the lives of voters—and all citizens—more acutely at a personal level. “The personal is political” comes true here more than any other place.
Consider, for example, that every N.C. General Assembly seat is contested in this fall’s election. There’s no question that the power of the current General Assembly has been unfettered because many of the seats were unopposed in recent elections. Little changes in the halls of power when the people walking the halls are all the same.
This fall, the balance of power could shift in N.C. If that happens, even with the same President—an election that drives turnout—North Carolinians could see changes in places where we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), places like public education funding, infrastructure support, corporate tax rates, voting districts—both General Assembly and U.S. Congressional. With a change in voting districts things will continue to change because the people walking the halls of power will change at both the state and federal level.
All of which is to say, this might be the election of a lifetime. It won’t be a category 5 sea change, but it could be change that stays the damaging effects of the slow erosion that is threatening our democratic foundation. Erosion, of course, is the most damaging change of all because we don’t notice it. Instead, we wake up one day and the land is gone.
Sea change and erosion is an apt metaphor this week for those of us who live in the Carolinas. Hurricane Florence will do immeasurable damage, but it will be far worse because we didn’t heed decades of erosion created by building on sand (Matt 7:26). Our democracy also has been on sand for decades. It’s time to sink the pilings and shore ourselves up for the great gift of democracy we have received.
Go vote. Take two people with you.