The spring of every year is marked by two things: the arrival of the Masters and the beginning of primary elections. The United States is a two-party political system; Republicans and Democrats who battle it out every year in November to decide who gets to represent us. The primary election is how the members of each party decide who represents their ideas and opinions the best and should, therefore, represent their party in the general election against the other side.
After winning the primary, depending on what state you are in and what percentage of the vote you received, you will either go to a runoff or straight to the general election. In Texas, you must receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary or the race goes to a runoff. The runoff takes places between the two candidates with the most votes in the primary. This year the primary date is March 6, and the runoff is May 22.
For Trinity, the primary and elections, in general, are a snooze-fest. Trinity resides in a +17 Republican district. Lamar Smith has been the congressman since 1992 and has never faced a serious primary or general election challenger. However, this year it will be different. On Nov. 2, Lamar Smith announced he was retiring. This means for the first time since we were born, Trinity can have an effect on who our congressman is going to be. No, it won’t be a Democrat. The district is still a +17 Republican district.
What this means is that whoever wins the Republican primary will, unless there is another Roy Moore situation, become the next congressman. There are 18 different candidates running for the position — with Texas’ 50 percent primary rule this means that the race will almost inevitably go to a runoff. With 18 candidates, there are plenty of options in every lane of the Republican party.
However, you aren’t restricted to simply participating in the 21st Congressional district race. San Antonio is normally a backwater in terms of politics. This year it’s a little less of a backwater. There are a number of competitive races in Bexar County that you can help influence by volunteering or interning for different political organizations.
The primary elections present Trinity students with the opportunity to work for and support a candidate who they believe represents their values and will help shape the future of the country in the direction that they believe it should go. For the Republican party, this means finding some way to fuse together the moderates, the conservatives and now the Trump supporters into a cohesive political unit.
For the Democratic party, the midterm primary offers their primary voters the opportunity to begin the soul-searching process that parties go through after losing a major election. This is the same process that the Republican party had to go through in 2008 and 2012. The Democratic party will have to make some hard decisions about where to go from 2016, an election that, according to almost all statistical experts, should have been easily won by Hillary Clinton.
The Democratic primary voters have interesting choices to make: Should they charge down Bernie’s road to serfdom in an effort to appease its progressive wing, or attempt to rediscover Bill Clinton’s third way in an attempt to win back the Midwest, the current door to the presidency?
Regardless of what side you are on, whether you believe in communism or a transcendent moral order, you should get involved and participate in the democratic process. While your one vote may not make the difference in an election, volunteering very well could.