Let vot­ing de­fine the best of democ­racy

The Phoenix - - OPINION -

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.

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