On this election day, and to ponder during the aftermath, I would like to say a word on politics. Hear me out! Everyone is so concerned about the presidential election and even the Supreme Court Justices that the
president appoints. I think the average American has missed the point. The president matters, but the president has little to do with your everyday life. Think back to the government shut down that occurred in 2013. Did you miss it? Unless you were a federal employee, did you even notice?
Quick constitutional law lesson from your friendly neighborhood attorney: Though things changed after the civil war, we have a system we call dual federalism. That means that any power not delegated to the federal government belongs to the state. Check out the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution! Practically speaking, most of what effects you in everyday life is a function of your state or municipal government. The roads you drive on, the schools you attend, what happens if you get sued or arrested, the sales tax on everything you buy, the safety of your neighborhood, your power, water, the erosion on your beach, the mosquitos in your yard, your driver’s license and vehicle tags, usually have very little to do with the federal government. These are state and local government functions.
Your state and local authorities are typically the ones you can meet, get to know and access when you have an issue. This is where your voice counts and where you can have an influence and make a difference. Voter turn out should be just as good, if not better, when there are local and state elections. Anything else is a fundamental misunderstanding of how our government is set up.
Today, as you go through your day, ponder each activity and whether the federal government has any influence in what you do. Consider who does have authority in these areas. Next election, pick an area of focus and get to know the candidates and the issues. Only then can you consider yourself an informed voter. Apathy comes from thinking we cannot influence or make a difference. Voter apathy is driven by a myopic focus on national politics. The cure is a focus on what we can influence. Remember that excitement you felt the very first time you cast a vote? Welcome back, warm, fuzzy patriotic feeling that my vote counts!
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