In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks (and honestly who could blame you), there was a presidential election. Leading up to the election, it was nearly impossible to drive down the street, browse through social media or even walk on campus without constant reminders to vote. We even wrote an editorial about it just to make sure that the message was clear. And people did vote.
More U.S. citizens voted in the 2020 U.S. presidential election than any other election in the past 100 years, according to The Washington Post, making it a record-breaking trip to the polls. Many celebrated President-elect Joseph Biden’s victory in major U.S. cities, including New York and Washington, D.C., according to Time Magazine. Though the week of Nov. 3 has passed, the time for activism and civic engagement has not.
For many, the 2020 election should mark the beginning of a life of social engagement and political awareness. Soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump illuminates the American truth that politics do not start and stop every four years. He didn’t sleep between 2016 and 2020, and the people shouldn’t either. Our policy makers and executives are constantly attempting to mold the nation to their agendas. It is the citizen’s job to keep an eye on these people and throw a fit when they step out of line. This vigilance is a lifelong struggle.
Trump may be ousted on Jan. 20, but it would be naive to think that a Democratic president means the fulfillment of your wildest dreams. Despite name-calling from prominent Republicans, Biden is neither a communist nor a socialist. He is actually quite moderate. He will not push progressive policies unless young progressives can prove their political clout. If you are a young person with big dreams of changing the system, then you need to make your voice known. Otherwise, older folks will continue to dominate politics with their consistent voting records and staunch views. Vote in every election. Write to your congressperson. Canvass in your community. Put a poster up in your yard or window. Keep the dialogue alive.
The federal government is not the only governing body that deserves your attention. Local politics often have a more substantial impact on your lived experience. While we often look towards the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the elected officials in your individual state’s Senate and House of Representatives have more legislative power to make decisions that are likely to affect you directly. It is also much easier to convince your neighbors of an important local cause than it is to convince millions of Americans of a lofty national cause. Change starts at home.
A phenomenon of disengagement has only been exacerbated by the modern internet. The problems seem too large and too remote. Positive human interaction is necessary to reverse the social damage of decades of division. Speaking to your neighbors is perhaps the most practical step you can take to reverse mindless apathy. Attend town and school board meetings if you can. Begin or join local coalitions with like-minded friends and neighbors; making your ideas known will be all the easier for it. Chances are, a local organization already exists for you to volunteer with.
Just because this election season has come to an end (for the most part), that does not mean that we should sit back and ignore politics. We must remain engaged, even if the excitement of a presidential election has passed.
Our country is currently at a decisive turning point, heightened by the coronavirus pandemic, the state of healthcare, the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change and many other issues. We must constantly remind our politicians that they work for us, and if they wish to win re-election, they must address these issues in an effective manner.
Do not give up because the people that disagree with your ideal vision of America certainly aren’t going to give up.
Editor’s Note: Opinions Editor Sasha Skarboviychuk did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.