Notre Dame pundits discuss 2022 midterm elections | News | Notre Dame News

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The 2022 midterm elections will take place on Tuesday (8 November). As the country faces the looming fallout from the Jan. 6, 2021 US Capitol violence, uncertain economic times, high-profile Supreme Court decisions and thorny political issues, Notre-Dame experts debate the many things the Voters will ponder the polls.

Matt HallDirector, Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy

The midterms may not be where we lose our democracy, but they could set the stage for it.

The key isn’t that what’s happening in the midterm elections is inherently anti-democratic — it’s that they might use officials who could then undermine our democracy in 2024. We’ve already seen congressmen willing to overturn perfectly legitimate election results, and we may see a lot more of that in 2024 when Republicans take over the House and Senate.

The Midterms will also emphasize the importance of many offices that people often don’t pay enough attention to – the races of Secretary of State, Attorney General and Governor will all be crucial, in part because they cannot be manipulated. And these statewide offices will be key players in handling the 2024 election. If the wrong people are sitting there, democracy could fall apart completely in 2024.

Rick GarnettPaul J. Schierl Law Professor/Fort Howard Corporation

Contrary to what some predicted last summer, the Supreme Court and its recent high-profile and controversial cases do not appear to be major problems for voters ahead of the 2022 election. This year’s court period will also deal with a number of such cases, to which the attention of commentators and critics will be devoted almost exclusively. However, it is important for Americans to realize that most of the court’s work involves technical legal issues, not ideological or partisan arguments. Those who claim or complain that the court is “political” or even “illegitimate” when judges fail to deliver their preferred political outcomes misunderstand the court and its role in our constitutional system.

The court is not “broken” just because it corrected previous mistakes or because the majority of the current judges were appointed by presidents of a particular party. The threat to the court today does not come from the judges’ verdicts, but from media coverage and political criticism, which assume that the court’s role is to deliver specific results.

Luis FragaDirector, Institute for Latin Studies

Traditionally, immigration and education are important to Latinos, and health care is an issue because Latinos are among the least insured populations in the United States. And then, for the upcoming election, you would consider whatever the big issue the candidates are focusing on.

There’s an inconsistency between what Latino voters, and perhaps all American voters who are Catholic, say their positions are on issues like reproductive rights and gay marriage, and how they’re actually going to vote because they’re all these different courts balance. We know the Church’s official position against abortion, gay marriage and sometimes even civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. But you need to balance that with a preferential option for the poor that emerges from Vatican II. You need to balance that with a very, very strong and unequivocal position on immigration where the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Pope Francis have said this is a big problem and we know we need to be on the side of immigrants. And how do you balance them when the candidates don’t line up that way? And what is interesting is that in this country and in many other countries the candidates do not agree perfectly on these important issues on which the Church has taken a stand. I think this is reflected in the voting preferences of Latino voters and Catholic voters in general.

What I’ve found is that there are more Latino voters willing to put aside reproductive rights and gay marriage in deciding who they ultimately vote for than many traditionalist white Catholics, where that becomes more crucial. It will be interesting to see how, given the recent fall of Roe v. Wade and the ongoing tough policies on immigration, some of which will continue even under the Biden administration, are working.

Markus BerendsDirector, Center for Research on Educational Opportunity

Amid the turmoil and violence in our politics today, we must find a better way. We have to think bigger and longer term. What I appreciate about Notre Dame is her reputation as a gospel-inspired force for good to improve the lives of the poor, underserved, and marginalized. To this end, we need to look at a number of measures that we need to think about more carefully, in relation to educational policies to promote teachers’ access to the profession; develop their knowledge, skills and commitment to the profession; and to reward and retain them for longer careers. Many of the federal and state education policies implemented over the past two decades have penalized schools and teachers, holding them accountable for adding value to student test scores. The result has been the demoralization of teachers and the exacerbation of teacher shortages, particularly in certain subjects and specific areas. In addition to the important societal issues of economy, climate change and human rights, we must address and focus on effective reforms for teachers, leaders and school systems. We also need our politicians at different levels to work to improve education. The future of the students and our nation depends on it. We do not have an effective track record in education. It’s time to do better.

Jason ReedWade Family Associate Teaching Professor of Finance

James Carville coined the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” while working on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. In 2022, 30 years later, that phrase is as relevant as ever. As we approach Election Day and the holiday season, consumers will be more aware of their spending power this year. Inflation has been and will continue to be the focus of politicians, political pundits, and almost all Americans. Since the US Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in March 2022, inflation has continued to put upward pressure on gas, groceries, cars and healthcare, all of our essential needs. The Fed continues to steer a course that suggests that tough economic times are still ahead – with the recession looming. Markets are bracing for another big rate hike in November and are more uncertain about the Fed’s December decision.

While there are signs the economy is finally slowing, political candidates will continue to point to that impact and point out that workers’ wages are not keeping up — which is part of the Fed’s economic plan. New car prices have finally fallen from staggering heights, and gasoline prices are well below their June highs of over $5 a gallon, evidence of the slowdown. Consumers will continue to make difficult grocery choices as prices remain high. These mixed signals are manifested in consumer confidence, which is still well below 2020 levels. Politicians know that the most visible prices, food and gas, play a big part in determining consumer expectations. We will continue to see tax policy and pressure from the White House to keep gas prices around $3.75 a gallon, still over 30 cents higher than this time last year.

Any political candidate who wants to stay in place will be telling their voters a more forward-looking story about where the economy is going, while anyone looking to unseat their opponent will be repeating where we were. When we go to the polls, a lot of us think… “It’s the economy, fool.


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