In a casual conversation with a friend yesterday, I asked if he had voted already. He shook his head and said, "No, I'm not voting." I stared at him blankly. He stared back at me and said, softly, in a way that could've been either a question or a statement, "In the... presidential?"
To which I responded, "Well, okay, but you're voting on everything else, right?"
"Uh, oh. Yeah."
Yes, congressional seats are in play in the United States Senate and House. More importantly, state and local elections seat people who do really important things, like redistricting and passing voter ID laws. Some states are reassessing how they conduct their primaries, which is probably a big part of the reason my friend isn't voting for president this year. If he really does vote on everything except president this year, he could influence the US Congress, State Senate and House, Judges, and election process for years to come.
The inflection in his voice told me that the idea of voting for anything other than president hadn't really been forefront in his mind. So I'll say it: I don't even care if you're voting for president anymore. Vote on issues and down-ticket candidates. Read your ballot and research your choices. Get informed. Talk to people you trust. Engage.
Engage again two years from now when voter participation plummets for mid-term elections. You, my friend, will have experienced the value of voting for everything other than president... which will equal exactly nothing if Donald Trump becomes Dictator-In-Chief this January.