Bethlehem’s local congressman Charlie Dent has recently announced his retirement.
Dent is serving his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives and represents
Pennsylvania’s 15th district, which includes part of Northampton County and all of Lehigh
County. After serving eight years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and six years in
the state Senate; this past month the moderate Republican announced he would not be running
for re-election in 2018. Moderates like Dent have been outspoken against the new Republican
Dent voted against the American Health Care Act of 2017. He did not approve of the
repeal and replace plan, and was concerned about the impact on Medicaid. The changes in the
program would affect millions of Americans, and could be dangerous to people with disabilities
that rely on it. Not only would the bill have taken away spending for Medicaid, but it would
leave more people uninsured.
Not only did Dent not approve of Trump’s plans for health care but he was a strong critic
of the travel ban as well. "The unfairness of the order was apparent to me," Dent said, "You can't
do that to people." The travel ban is currently in legal limbo due to a federal judge in Hawaii
blocking the executive order
Recently, there have been many Republicans like Dent who have declined to run for re-
election. Those who do not support the president’s agenda are being pushed out of Congress.
This happens a lot when there is a new president in office but some are speaking out against
Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona made headlines with his announcements to not seek re-
election. Flake is a strong critic of Trump and made harsh statements against the president’s
administration calling their acts, “reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior.” After Flake’s
statement, Dent called it a “true statement,” saying: "Today's announcement by my friend
Senator Jeff Flake is sad news for the people of Arizona, the U.S. Senate and the entire United
States. Jeff has always acted according to a clear compass of conservative principles, with
recognition and respect for the responsibility to govern.”
Regardless of party or ideology, everyone can agree that being more politically involved
couldn’t hurt and being educated on politics can benefit our government system as a whole.
Smaller elections don’t get as much press as the presidential elections, but the jobs legislators are
being elected to are just as important. The 2016 election taught us many things but one
significant flaw in the election was the voter turnout, especially of millennials.
Getting involved in elections for senators and representatives can have a large impact on
the 2020 presidential election. As of 2015, the Census Bureau reports congressional voting
turnout is at lowest mark since 1978. The citizens who go out and vote are usually above 55 and
have different views than younger voters. Millennials have strong opinions on these topics but
don’t show up to the polls, and sharing and liking a page on social media can only go so far.
In recent years, approval for Congress has been extremely low, and less than 20 percent
of the American population approves the direction Congress is going in. That being said, only
15 percent of citizens participated in the 2012 congressional primary elections, according to the
Bipartisan Policy Center.
The men and women we vote for are supposed to be representing their state’s population.
If only a small percentage vote, then they’re only representing a small portion of their
community. Northampton students can and should be involved in who is going to fill Dent’s
shoes next year when he leaves office.