By Lisa Nault
The problem with election years (besides the ridiculous news stories) is that the public is so focused on who is going to be elected as president that they seem to forget about local issues. Think about it, do you know what the ballot measures are going to be for your state? If you do congrats, because you are informed. I am not saying we should not focus on educating ourselves about presidential candidates. Of course we should; whoever is elected will be the most powerful person in the United States. However, government at the state level impacts our lives as well and should not be ignored just because it is smaller.
It is hard to find the time to sit down and read any in-depth article let alone one talking about local/state politics. I find that if I do not have time I can at least check out ballotpedia.org quickly. The great thing about this website is that it contains accurate and objective information about the issues being tackled on the ballot. It clearly presents the political measures and policies in a comprehensive but succinct form of writing. For example, it presents quick summaries and hyperlinks regarding Mass. health care policies, energy policies, and state executive offices.
I catch myself being ignorant to many political topics but at least this website is available for me to understand the basics. In an ideal world, we would all have the time to research local and state politics that affect us.
Now, while most of it is our own fault, the media does not help. When Trump or Clinton does anything noteworthy, they immediately occupy the entirety of news coverage. Often the news they share is not actually that surprising to us. Trump said something misogynistic or xenophobic again. There is more information about Clinton and her email scandal. We know this and we do not need to be bombarded with the same information told in a new way. What we do need is the information that is relevant to us that we are not getting.
Government, specifically democracy, cannot operate without a functional society, and we cannot have a functional society without an educated public. Electing our next president is crucial and will significantly impact us, but we must remain aware that local/state policies are being ignored. These policies may not feel as impactful as deciding the next president, but that does not negate their significance.