While much of our political discourse is nationally focused, we also recognize the significance of political activity at the local level. As a University community, national issues often consume our political discussions, but we must be mindful of the incredibly important issues and electorial races occurring at the local level from which our attention should not be distracted. In the upcoming November election, residents of Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington will be asked if their states should legalize same-sex marriage. Regardless of where you fall on this issue, you should be mindful of the impact your vote can have on your community. Additionally, with redistricting in full effect, Congressional races are especially important this election cycle. The most highly contentious races lie in larger states like California, Florida, Michigan and New York as well as smaller states like Minnesota, New Hampshire and Utah. If we continue to allow our focus to be absorbed with national issues, we may miss an opportunity to join the discussions that are changing the communities in which we live.
There are multiple ways in which students can involve themselves in local politics. Many campaigns offer the opportunity for volunteers to participate in phone banks as well as canvassing of neighborhoods. By participating through these mediums, not only would students be working to shape political outcomes, but students would also become more engaged with the specific issues affecting their respective communities. We recognize the efforts of the College Republicans and College Democrats, who have organized fall-break campaigning trips to Virginia and Florida, respectively. This type of active engagement reduces the complacency trap that students are subject to fall into trying to escape the intense Princeton environment.
Local politics are incredibly important as the impact on the individual is much more substantial and direct than that at the national level. We are best represented in our local communities, and our votes are usually more significant. Our local politicians are most in tune with our concerns and are in a prime position to address them, but in order for this action to be substantial we must be involved in the process that shapes the representatives elected.
We have a responsibility to participate in government — especially at the local level. We cannot lose sight of this obligation as the effects of our political participation are sure to be significant. Our political responsibility should not be overshadowed by our common tendency to focus on national issues. We should honor the historic intention of our fall break and continue to contribute to political discourse and activity in our local communities.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/19/31577/