The importance of being politically earnest

By: Brett Slaughenhaupt – Columnist, Sophomore

With Nov. 8 just around the corner, each passing day brings us all closer and closer to the biggest day in politics. Or does it?

American society holds on dangerously tight to the idea that with every four years, the election of our new

President of the United States will be the end-all, be-all fix to our nation’s problems. However, as each term

has come to an end over the past 20 to 30 years, our country has shown itself to be in just as much trouble as when the term started, if not more so.

You might say: “But we can still turn it around, right? It is truly the next presidential election that is going to turn things around for us!”

This line of thinking is exemplary of the insanity that is American politics and how, as a whole, we choose to pay attention it: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

That is not to say that POTUS does not hold a large amount of stock when it comes to our country’s outlook and how the rest of the world views us. But his or her influence can only extend so far; one person can only internally affect so much within a population of 318 million people. This is especially relevant to the radical disparity in legislature being exhibited between states when California is moving forward with the idea of a progressive $15 minimum wage while North Carolina is making their minimum wage laws much more strict.

Focusing in on smaller areas – counties, cities, towns – the political system can be seen enacting direct power over its constituents, whether that be the aforementioned legislature on wages, or our local Mayor of Dayton Nan Whaley banning all city-funded travel to North Carolina and Mississippi in protest of their anti-LGBT+ laws. The local politicians not only affect their constituents, they influence surrounding areas, as well. In a time when political change is being evidenced in a multiplicity of areas in increasingly incongruent ways, it would be irresponsible not to take advantage of the voice we have been given in our local areas through voting.

While we are forced to blindly follow the status quo with the near-totality of the media’s focus on the election of our new President, we are missing out on other elections that could create major precedence around the nation. Take the mayoral election in Baltimore, a city that has been plighted by a variety of serious issues involving corruption within its political system. The election in this city, in particular, is interesting because it involves DeRay Mckesson, a civil rights activist involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and a celebrity in his own right. The idea of social action through politics is not a new one, by any means, but social activist turned politician does not hold much precedent. When fighting against a system, it is not often that we see the fighter enter the system directly.

Marrying these identities and breaking down that particular wall on a smaller level can also affect the future of politics and how people get involved in them. This only comes to show us the importance of local politics.

Because it is more condensed in nature, local politics work at a much faster pace in taking effect and have a more immediate impact on the present culture than that of federal politics.

Looking at our country from such a large scope muddles our understandings of issues that deserve a much more nuanced investigation. And things will continue as they are as long as we keep this top-down system of politics, rather than fixing our nation from the bottom-up, locally.