Think Small: Why You Should Care About State And Local Politics
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Politics and Activism

Think Small: Why You Should Care About State And Local Politics

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Think Small: Why You Should Care About State And Local Politics

It's no secret that youth in the United States are becoming increasingly disinterested in politics. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that youth, ages 18-24, are consistently the least likely to vote among all age groups, especially in state and local elections. Sure, every now and again a presidential candidate will pop up who gets students to turn their heads, but after the campaign’s over and all oaths are taken, it's back to four more years of political hibernation.

So what causes such a lack of participation in politics? Why is it that young people don’t want to take part of the great American voting system? A simple answer is that the system just isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be. Campaigns are run like businesses, political promises are thrown around like candy at a parade, big money in elections drowns out the voices of the voter; the list goes on. Considering all of these problems, it’s no wonder people don't want to participate. After all, why spend time on something that you feel you can’t change? Your vote is your voice, but at times it seems that all we have is a whisper.

So is there a way to exercise your constitutional right without feeling that you don’t matter? Yes there is: by voting in state and local elections. Local politics is widely overlooked by the news media and voters alike, simply because an inflammatory statement made by Donald Trump is more appealing than a tax bill proposed by the Georgia Senate. Because of this lack of attention, voters don’t know who their state representative is, they don’t vote in local elections, and they couldn’t care less.

The truth of the matter is that you should care more about what’s going on in your city and state than in Washington DC, because policies made by your local governments have more of an impact on your daily life than most national policies do. Your income and property taxes, emergency services, law enforcement, public transportation, and city landscaping are decided by men and women serving on your city council. Do you know who these people are? Your state representative votes on legislation affecting the state’s economy, discrimination practices, social welfare, gun policy, legal punishments, and more. It’s up to you to make sure that that representative is properly representing you. This prospect is made all the more possible by the fact that between 5 and 20% of the citizens in a district votes in local elections, meaning that your vote does count. An election can literally be decided by a neighborhood.

All of this isn’t to say that United States national politics isn’t important. Still vote in national elections, but start voting locally as well. It's time that young people start paying attention to the largely-ignored local political system, and that we don't underestimate its power. The anti-vaccination movement originated in southern state legislatures while mandatory vaccination legislation originated in California's. The new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a bill that opens the door for discrimination, has shown up around the nation after being introduced in Indiana. Oklahoma's state legislature proposed legislation to ban AP United States History for taking a "radically revisionist" stance, which has since spread to Georgia. These are all national issues, yet they started in our states. Change starts from the ground up, and its our responsibility to make sure we're changing for the better. That means call your local representative and tell them what you expect of them. That means put the men and women into office who will best serve you and represent your city, and state.

You’ll find that your government can - and will - change if you demand that it does.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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