Let voting define the best of democracy
In two days, this nation will conduct a momentous election.
All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are on the ballot, as are 33 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate.
Pennsylvania voters will be selecting a governor, U.S. Senator, members of Congress, every member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and half of the state Senate.
The decisions can affect health care, taxes, jobs, immigration policy, education funding, energy initiatives, the makeup of our courts, and yes, the tone of future discourse.
The election is without precedent in Pennsylvania after the state Supreme Court earlier this year drew a new map of congressional districts, striking down the former map as an illegal partisan gerrymander.
Voters in Berks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties will be voting in the newly drawn 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th districts.
There are no incumbents on the ballot in the 4th, 5th and 6th districts. Congressman Ryan Costello and former Congressman Patrick Meehan are among the 56 representatives who did not seek re-election, either retiring or seeking higher office. Meehan stepped down earlier this year.
At stake Tuesday in this wave of change is the majority rule of the House, and potentially the future of President Trump’s tenure.
Democrats are trying to gain 23 Republican seats to win the House, and some are predicting that history is on their side.
According to a 100-year analysis of House elections conducted by Ballotpedia, the president’s party has historically lost an average of 29 seats in midterm elections.
But as recent elections have shown, political predictions and trends are made to be broken.
House races are being closely watched in this region as the Philadelphia suburbs typically involve hotly contested races.
U.S. House candidates from the two major parties are:
— in the 1st District, which includes Bucks County and Lansdale in Montgomery County, incumbent Republican Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Scott Wallace;
— in the 4th District of Montgomery County and the Boyertown area of Berks, Democrat Madeleine Dean and Republican Dan David;
— in the 5th District of Delaware County, Democrat Mary Kay Scanlon and Republican Pearl Kim,
— In the 6th District of Chester County and a large portion of Berks, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan and Republican Greg McCauley.
Senator Bob Casey, a Scranton Democrat, is seeking his third term. He is opposed by Republican Lou Barletta, Green Party candidate Neal Gale and Libertarian Dale Kerns Jr.
While the federal elections are getting the most attention, state elections in Pennsylvania may determine the future of issues critical to our region, including taxation and school funding.
Gov. Tom Wolf has been at odds with the Republican-controlled General Assembly, and a reversal of that control, or the election of Wolf’s opponent Republican Scott Wagner, could change that. Kenneth Krawchuk is the Libertarian candidate.
Democrats need to gain one seat to break the Republican two-thirds majority in the state Senate that allows them to override the governor’s veto.
In the House, where all 203 seats are up for re-election, Republicans have a 119-81 edge.
But this election is about more than numbers-crunching and potential power shifts.
Also at stake is the leadership and ability of individuals to reach consensus that will define our government for the future.
And that stake begins with voters.
Consider the qualifications of a candidate to listen to constituents, to lead by example, and to explore creative solutions to the challenges of governing.
Avoid the hysteria that paints national figures, including President Trump and leaders of Congress, as the reasons to vote for or against a candidate.
We must approach this election purposefully making wise choices based on qualifications and vision, not prejudice and association.
There is one more opportunity on Tuesday: We can respect those voting around us, even if we disagree.
Go to the polls with pride in sharing with all Americans this common experience and great privilege.
Let the exercise of voting define our democracy.