By Maddie Aitken ’19
The 2018 midterm elections were held on November 6. During these elections, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one third of the seats in the Senate were up for election. Additionally, 36 states and 3 U.S. territories had elections for governor, including Connecticut. There were also races for mayor in certain towns and cities across the country, which are important because they control local areas and affect decisions that impact citizens directly.
The elections, especially the congressional ones, are relevant because congressional elections affect a state’s representation in Congress. Unlike presidential elections, which use the Electoral College in addition to a popular vote, congressional elections are based solely on citizens’ votes.
The midterm elections also determined which political party will control each chamber of Congress – House of Representatives and Senate – until 2020, when there will also be a presidential election and possibly a new president. The Democrats took control of the House, and the Republicans have the Senate.
Mr. McMann, who teaches AP U.S. History and Honors U.S. Government and Politics is forming a new political organization on campus. The Gray Party, which is led by Nathaniel Ince ‘20, Will Alling Graney ‘19, Jolie Kaplan ‘20, and Duke Fishman ‘19, hopes to encourage and facilitate more political discussion and debate on campus, with the aim of having students become more open-minded and moderate. The idea for the Gray Party came about in the 2016-17 school year, when Mark Choi ‘18 and Anthony Cochrane ‘18 did an independent study on civic engagement for the millennial generation. Choi was a liberal progressive and Cochrane was a conservative, and according to Mr. McMann, “They wanted to create this bipartisan political think tank on campus…These guys were from opposite ends of the political spectrum and yet they were both committed to seeking compromise and more moderate solutions.”
The Gray Party was technically established in 2017 and was responsible for a few events that happened in the 2017-18 school year, including the gubernatorial debate and the gun control forum, but Mr. McMann used the 2018 midterm elections to really get the Gray Party off the ground.
On October 16, the Gray Party took students to a debate between Jahana Hayes (Democrat) and Manny Santos (Republican), the candidates for the House of Representatives from Connecticut’s 5th congressional district, in which The Gunnery is located. On November 6, Hayes won the election, and she will be the House representative for CT-5.
The Gray Party also strongly encouraged any students over the age of 18 to vote in elections. They provided help with voter registration and transportation to the polls.
In Addition, Mr. McMann has begun working with Better Angels, a national bipartisan citizens’ movement that is working to unify our divided nation, bringing red and blue Americans together in alliances to build new ways to communicate and ultimately contribute to the depolarization of our country. Better Angels representatives came to The Gunnery on October 30 to facilitate a forum that focused on liberal and conservative stereotypes.
Mr. McMann said his goal for students, which he hopes the Gray Party will help achieve, is “getting to a place where it’s not about winning debates but it’s about being open and being more moderate.”