Why 2016 may actually be the most important election of our lifetime

Over the years, I have become accustomed to hearing during every election cycle how this is the most important election “in a generation,” “in our lifetimes” or even “ever.” Usually, this is just campaign fodder to drive members of their party to get out and vote, nothing more, nothing less. However, in this election cycle, it may be more than just lip service when you hear from the candidates and media how important the 2016 election is.

First, the White House is an open seat. There is no incumbent running for President in this election, leaving it completely open and guaranteeing both a new president and vice president come January 2017. As with all elections, a new President brings with him (or her) all new appointees to a large number of very key positions, but in addition, a new president also means our country will have a new vice president. 

{mosads}A new vice president is always significant, but even more so in this particular election because the vice president is the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, should there be an evenly split vote. Adding to the drama in this election cycle, the Senate is widely considered up for grabs. Currently, the senate is 54-46 in favor of the GOP with several Republican-held seats in hotly contested elections. It is not unrealistic to assume there is a chance the Senate will be split 50-50 after election day, further increasing the importance of the vice president and subsequently the presidential election.

Once the new Senate is sworn in, they will have a very important duty to fulfill; the duty of confirming the new presidential appointment to the Supreme Court. The Senate has already made clear they have no intentions of taking up a vote on President Obama nominee Merrick Garland, but they will certainly be taking up a vote on the choice by the new president. Currently, the court sits at a 4-4 split, making this next presidential appointment one that will sway the balance of the court. However, while the new president is likely to take office with one Supreme Court appointment to make, there is a chance that the next president could have one or even two additional appointments to the high court before their time as president is up, even if they only serve one term. This could ultimately end up being a presidency that sways the balance of the court for the next 20 years. 

Ultimately every election for President of the United States is hugely significant, not only for our country, but for the world. Right now, our country is going through trying times, times the require strong leadership, bringing added significance to this particular election. But when you throw in the fact that this election will have a substantial impact on all three branches of government the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time, you can conclude that this may in fact be the most important election in many, many years. So while we will all differ in opinion, the important part is to have an opinion; one that is informed and based on conviction, and one that results in a vote at the polls in November for what is possibly the most significant election of your lifetime. 

Evan Berryhill is former Capitol Hill staffer and current law student.

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