The 2018 elections set many new records. It appears the largest ever number of voters turned out in an off-year election when traditionally people do not vote.
Nov. 6 election participation by eligible voters was 49.2 percent nationwide. This is the highest for a midterm in 104 years. Nationally many messages were sent. One hundred-plus women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. One hundred women is an historic number. It has never occurred before.
Democrats won the House of Representatives. A significant number of Republican Governors were defeated. Democrats changed governorships in seven states: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Kansas, New Mexico and Maine. Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate. As of the writing of this column, a few House seats are still contested and a Senate seat in Florida is not decided yet. Perhaps, as you are reading this column, they will have been decided.
This dramatic voter turnout and control by Democrats and particularly women can be directly attributed to several major issues. Voters do not believe Congress is solving major issues and problems. These issues include transportation and infrastructure, immigration and health care including preexisting conditions. Also, people are really disgusted with the very disrespectful tone set by President Trump during the past two years.
I have written often in this column about the terrible condition of our roads and bridges. Obviously, I was very disappointed voters in Peoria County turned down a referendum to raise a half cent sales tax to fix our roads. America is “ one big pothole,” and we have our share in Central Illinois. I believe it is critical for Congress to pass a comprehensive transportation and infrastructure bill and raise the gas tax to pay for the repairs.
The gas tax has not been raised in almost 25 years. The highway trust fund, which is funded by gas tax, is broken. Many newly elected members of Congress are talking about making an Infrastructure bill a top legislative priority.
Our immigration system is broken. Congress needs to address illegal immigration but also include a legal opportunity for a path forward for citizenship for immigrants living in America today. We need to provide foreign students with an opportunity to study in America. We need workers to do the agricultural work, the landscaping work and service work in restaurants and hotels. Only a comprehensive immigration bill can provide these opportunities.
The issue of health care, particularly providing preexisting condition coverage, is an issue that resonated with the American people in this election. Again, this should be a top priority for the new Congress. No doubt the new Congress will want to review carefully the Mueller Report and will likely hold many hearings on policies implemented by the Trump Administration during their first two years. The new Congress will be sworn in in early January. The American people will be watching for results on the issues I have just discussed in this column. The American people will be looking for bipartisan solutions. The American people want Congress to come together and to work together. I am optimistic this can and will happen.
Finally, my sincere appreciation to Clare Howard who runs this paper for the opportunity to sound off each month on issues of interest to me but also to you the readers for your interest in our opinions.
Now really finally, I cannot end this December column without wishing all readers a blessed Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Peace and Happy Holidays.