Voting offers best chance for change in our country


For Americans who believe Congress has done nothing to stop, or even slow, the rate of school shootings, there is an outlet for change.


In a year, 2018, that already has averaged one school shooting per week, the nation also will conduct an election. It isn’t a high-drama presidential election. This will be a midterm election, which puts all 435 seats in the U.S. House and 34 seats in the U.S. Senate up for grabs.

Typically, people pay more attention when the presidency is on the ballot, compared to elections with congressional jobs as the marquee races. Among eligible voters, 60 percent normally vote in presidential elections, while just 40 percent vote in the midterms.

Americans should not sit the 2018 election out.

The latest school shooting unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A former student armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire on students and adults, killing 17 people and wounding 18 others.

In a cycle repeated numerous times in recent years, members of Congress expressed condolences, others lament the power of the gun lobby and demand legislation to curb the proliferation of military style weaponry, and another devastated school and community tried to absorb the agony of children and staff murdered en masse. Local communities, police and school districts do their best to prepare and plan to prevent such a nightmare.

But in Washington, nothing changes.

Then, the same set of events happens again months, weeks or even days later. The names of the kids, town and school change, but on Capitol Hill nothing changes. The same scenario repeats itself when mass shootings occur in other public venues.

Apparently, the status quo is what the country can expect out of this current mix in Congress.

For sure, the senators and representatives have been elected in their states and districts, so a significant segment of the population supports Congress’ stance on gun violence. And Americans’ opinions on the topic vary, and there are no simple solutions.

Yet, a sizable portion of the country wants their elected officials — on all sides of the issue — to start talking with each other about the problem and at least consider ways to give mothers, fathers, grandparents, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles, neighbors, coaches, Scout leaders and clergy a greater confidence that their loved ones in the schools are safe.

So, while the debates resume between well-prepared advocates on each end of the issue, average people wanting to hear the ideas and intentions of incumbent members of Congress and candidates challenging for those seats should contact those politicians. That interaction also is an opportunity for citizens to express their own ideas and concerns, whatever those may be.

Then, remember the important dates for the 2018 election season. The Indiana primary allows voters to pick the nominee of a particular party, and the primary date is Tuesday, May 8. The deadline for registering to vote is April 9, and Hoosiers can register online at indianavoters. com. The election itself is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Hoosiers not already registered must do so by Oct. 9 to vote in November.

Americans wanting a different approach from Congress should vote accordingly.

Mark Bennett is a writer for the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. Send comments to [email protected].

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