Oh hey, happy Election Day!
...yeah. I know. That phrase is bringing up a lot of REALLY UNPLEASANT ASSOCIATIONS for a lot of us right now. It's easier to just not think about it. Sometimes that's NECESSARY if we want to keep functioning. I get that. It's important to take care of yourself, to take a step back when you need to.
Just not today.
Today, staying home is just selfish. "But it's an odd number year!" you say. "Nothing important is on the ballot!" No. That's a lie people have been telling you. Many many places have local elections today, and I know it can be harder to figure out the candidates and issues for these, but in some ways they're the most important elections in which you get to vote.
TWO BIG REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE IN LOCAL ELECTIONS EVEN IF YOU'D RATHER GO HOME AND HIBERNATE
1. Local elections have huge effects on your life and the people around you. Sure, state and national ones do too, but the more I pay attention to local politics, the more important I realize they are. These elections are the ones that will determine your school system policies and local housing regulations and whether your community spends money on schools or paving the roads or cultural events or nothing at all. If you have ballot questions today, they give you a direct up/down vote on actual policies, without even going through a representative. And the people you elect today are the ones who will vote on the contracts for your kids' teachers and your police and firefighters. They will control things like public works and the parks and rec department. They will be the ones running your next elections, those ones in 2018 and 2020 that have such big stakes.
2. Local politics are how most aspiring national politicians - good or bad - get their start. In many ways, this is a feeder system. Getting elected to local office lets politicians start to build a base that will give them time and attention and money as they then run for higher office. It also provides on-the-job training for the actual work of being an elected representative. Even if you think you don't really care about local issues, I bet you care about having a say in which candidates get the experience and platform they need to be successful in state and national politics.
If you're someone who often feels like the candidates running for Senate or President on the major party tickets don't represent your interests and beliefs, then the absolute most important thing you can do to change that is to help get people you agree with elected in local races. And if you want to stop people you disagree with - like actual Nazis, say - from being in positions of power over the whole country: come out and vote against them when they're trying to take over the school board. It's like being a time traveler going back to prevent terrible things from happening, but easier.
I know you don't want to relive anything that reminds you of last year, or maybe you're frustrated with the whole system and just want to sit this out, but this is too important to let our own personal emotional needs and comfort to outweigh the greater good. Please. Grin and bear it and go vote.
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