Sam Denison is a junior at Lehigh University studying International relations and economics. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone.
As the fall semester kicks off and Lehigh students return to school here in Bethlehem, I hope we can all remember: Pennsylvania is a pretty wild place to be right now. Not just thanks to the bustling city nightlife of the Lehigh Valley, but because of the 2022 midterm elections.
Pennsylvania has gotten national buzz due to just how critical our races here are — from the top of the ticket races like Josh Shapiro for Governor, John Fetterman for Senate and Susan Wild for Congress, all the way down to the bottom of the ballot. The gaggle of Republicans running in these races are dangerous and they’d work against the things that matter most to college students.
In the governor’s race, State Senator Doug Mastriano (R) is running against Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) on a platform of election denialism and extremism. Mastriano does not believe in climate change. He wants to strip away LGBTQ+ rights and ban abortion. He is incredibly dangerous and would work to undermine democracy in our state. In the Senate race, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (D) is running against Dr. Oz (R), of cable television fame. Fetterman will be a strong voice for fighting climate change, expanding health care, getting money out of politics, and fighting for the little guy. Dr. Oz? He’s a rich Jersey guy trying to buy Pennsylvania’s Senate seat. Our votes matter a lot in these two races.
But Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district is a local race that our votes play an even more critical role in, and Congresswoman Susan Wild (D) is in for a tough re-election fight. She’s running against Lisa Scheller (R), a Republican rubber stamp whose career as a “businesswoman” consists mostly of shipping Pennsylvania jobs overseas. Wild has been a fighter for issues that college students like us care about. She’s honest, a straight talker, and fights for what’s right, even when she’s facing a tough re-election. Susan Wild deserves our support.
It seems like we’re told year after year that “this is the most important election of our lifetimes.” Yeah, it might be annoying — but it’s true that electoral politics have an enormous impact on people’s lives. Going to school in Pennsylvania is a privilege we shouldn’t take lightly. We have the chance here to get involved in important races that could do as much as determine control of the Senate, whether abortion stays legal in Pennsylvania, and whether Congressional Republicans take the majority they need to advance their extremist agenda that will put our climate on a path to destruction.
College students and other members of our generation often get a bad rap for not caring, not voting, not getting involved. I know that’s not true about Lehigh students. We care deeply about our futures, because today’s issues will only be more critical tomorrow. Climate change, student debt reform, the rights and freedoms of everyone to control their own bodies. If we want a liveable future for our generation and the generations to come, we need to elect leaders who will prioritize the issues we care about.
Democrats are far from perfect. But with the political moment we’re in, we can’t afford to make the perfect the enemy of the good. When college students are engaged and paying attention, we’re a really powerful voting block — and we should use our votes this November to elect and re-elect candidates who give a damn.