Are the midterms enough of an evaluation?

Photo by Blake Israel

This past summer when I interned at a healthcare company, I closed off my three-month experience with a performance evaluation.

I was judged on four pillars: keeping the company’s best interests in mind, anticipating and embracing decisions, challenging the traditional operations of my team, and leveraging diverse opinion and thought in my work. 

I received a sizable amount of feedback on how I could improve my work ethic, ask the right questions and develop myself to be a competitive member of Corporate America. While internships are structured to allow students to learn essential skills such as giving and receiving feedback, performance evaluations are a critical component of the private sector.

At the company I worked at, each employee is evaluated on a six-month basis.

Consistent assessment against objectives and goals is a fundamental aspect of any competitive institution striving for productivity and excellence. 

And while in the private sector metrics and evaluations are commonplace, can the same be said to be true for our government?

In terms of political atmosphere this year, the United States has seen the overturning of Roe v. Wade, countless mass shootings, increasing tension in global relations and economic crisis. And the list could go on — systemic racism, climate change, poverty, the housing crisis and student loan debt are a few more “keywords” that continuously cycle through our newsfeeds.

The topics above are national and global issues affecting populations across various ethnic backgrounds, economic statuses and regions. 

Young adults comprise a common cohort impacted by one or more of these topics. 

Climate change threatens the stability and continuity of our future, while economic crises such as student loan debt add disparate stress to the political atmosphere. 

This only further represses the stability of our nation and the social and economic growth of younger generations.

With so much effort to engage the young voter population in recent years, why is such little progress being made towards issues affecting us the most?

How can we create more accountability for the leaders and representatives serving us in our government?

Perhaps the root of the problem lies with the unevolved interaction between the people and the government. Many of the national issues we currently face are not impossible to solve. 

While addressing any issue requires time, precision and systemic change, months or years without continuous, intentional effort to remedy these problems only creates more opportunities for future crises to affect the integrity of our nation.

Midterm elections are one of the only ways we can sway our government to focus on issues we care about. Even then, two years is too vast of a time span to wait for action on pressing issues that need immediate resolution.

It’s high time that the government catches up to the rapid social and political evolution of our country. 

That change starts with demanding more transparency and frequent opportunities to give feedback to our government to enable the two-way street of communication that is a necessity for any institution serving their people. 

I suspect that for many politicians, their productivity and motivation drastically improve as election season nears. 

We need to start holding our government accountable in the same way the private sector measures outcomes of their employees — with regular, structured conversations about our goals and expectations for them.

Our contributions do not have to be large-scale to kickstart transformation. According to the Library of Congress, the average age of the members of the House of Representatives is 58.4 years and of the Senate is 64.3 years.

With a substantial age gap between our generation and most of our leaders, it is our prerogative to define how we want our government to interact with us. Requests to representatives could be sent in via social media or email and could suggest the best venues, such as Instagram Live or Reddit AMAs, through which this interplay could occur. 

Live interactions are integral to holding accountability, and with so much modern technology at our disposal, townhalls and press conferences should not be the status quo for getting in touch with the elected. 

Now more than ever, Gen Z and Millennial voters are taking action in shaping their future by stepping out to vote. 

It is crucial that this engagement is maintained, as elections are one of the only ways for the young voter population to influence action on the causes we care about. 

We need to make a conscious effort to assess our current leaders and push for dynamic change in our government — starting with questioning the unchanged infrastructure of our nearly 250-year-old institution.