As the midterm elections and Nov. 8 approach, there couldn’t be a better time for students to get involved in politics. Often, when students think of government, they think of the three branches of the federal government. However, powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states or to the people. The vast majority of government employees are employed by the local and state governments. This means that the state, and more specifically, the local government is directly responsible for serving the community. Local politics have the most effect on students’ daily life. A national poll by CIRCLE highlights that the youngest members of the electorate are energized to create social change. 83% say they believe young people have the power to change the country, 60% feel like they’re part of a movement that will vote to express its views, and 79% of young people say the COVID-19 pandemic has helped them realize that politics impact their everyday lives. According to CIRCLE, as of early September this year, 18 of the states already have more young people, ages 18-24, registered to vote than they did in November 2018, which is a positive sign for youth electoral participation in the 2022 midterms. With more voters, the results of the election will more accurately depict what voters want. Since Congress is made up of elected officials who were selected by the people, it stands to reason that the same officials will be elected if the same people vote. If you are dissatisfied with how your Congressional representative is voting, making your voice heard and voting is imperative to make sure that they are not re-elected. Conversely, if your values align with your Representative or Senator, it’s important to vote for their re-election campaign so that they can continue voicing the concerns of their constituency. Many movements help to create federal law. Women’s suffrage, environmental protection, racial discrimination, minimum wage, and marriage equality had their roots in local communities. Often, bills introduced into Congress can be debated endlessly or shelved completely. However, your state and local government have the ability to make progress when Congress cannot bring an issue to the forefront. Elections are coming up on the tail end of the largest Federal student debt relief effort in recent years, Biden’s partial student loan forgiveness plan, with bills such as the Income-Driven Student Loan Forgiveness Act in the works to forgive even more debt. In order to have students’ voices heard in the government, they must vote. Simply put, not voting is giving up your voice. You have the opportunity to vote. You have the ability to make a change. If staying silent is taking the side of the oppressor, choosing not to vote is accepting the status quo.
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