Americans Need to Change How They View Politics

Finn Witham, Editor

It seems like almost nobody in America understands how democracy works. Every four years, we have bitter (and even violent) battles over what single person will occupy the White House and what party will control Congress, giving no regard to the hundreds of thousands of state and municipal elected officials who make crucial decisions for Americans, many of whom likely don’t even know these officials’ names. 

We can see the consequence of treating all politics as national politics today: currently, state legislatures across the nation are passing laws that limit reproductive rights, the rights of transgender minors, and the voting rights of people of color. Many people cannot afford a home; a problem that is exacerbated by municipal officials who care more about homeowners’ and the dream of suburbia than the economic and environmental consequences of the housing crisis. And all the while, people only seem to complain about Joe Biden or Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi, none of whom have the ability to change state constitutions or zoning laws in a single city. 

This problem can be attributed to a variety of factors: local newspapers go out of business constantly, and most people consume media that covers national politics, community organizations are on the decline, and we live in a bitterly polarized nation. These issues cannot be solved quickly, and they certainly can’t be solved by anyone on their own. But, at the end of the day, voters still have the power to effect change. If people began researching local politics, reading local news, and involving themselves in their communities, we could see change at a political level where change can actually be effected. 

Washington is not the only place where politics happen. And, if we keep seeing it that way, we could lose any hope we have at securing rights and progress for all people.