Whenever it is time to vote on amendments, councilmen, judges, mayors and representative, people struggle with taking a political stance. Many people believe voting is a waste of time when it comes to the local government. I have heard some people say their vote is insignificant in comparison to the voting figures. I’ve even heard people say they don’t trust the politicians to do what they’ve promised during their campaign once in office. I would argue there is truth in all of these statements but not entirely. Yes, voting can feel like a waste of time if the person you vote for loses. Yes, your vote will be insignificant if you don’t vote at all or pencil yourself in as a candidate on the ballot. Yes, every voter experiences distrust in any politician running for office (including the ones they’re voting for). Yes, only a small portion of what was promised during campaigns are reflected during actual terms. My question to all the naysayers is, how do you propose we change this? I have been furious with local and federal politicians because of how excluded I’ve felt after their election. However, how do we transform our elected officials into activists? How do we get them just as engaged as we are with matters we find concerning? Sure, we can bring awareness to problems within the community by protesting, hosting public meetings, writing letters and calling local officials but none of these acts rarely ever leads to a one-on-one conversation with the mayor.
As citizens, we want to feel like who we elect stands for and against some issues of concern to the general public. We are interested in local officials’ disposition on crime, discrimination, poverty, immigration, public services, transportation, entrepreneurship, local trade, commerce and other topics of discussion. We want officials to get well acquainted with the communities they serve as district councilmen. We want to see how the mayor, congressman and governor interacts with the people of Nashville. Truthfully, I do not think the general public cares about political eloquence. We don’t care about the arrangement of speeches and press conferences. Our mind goes strictly to the address. The second something happens within our community that calls for a response from government officials, we think, “How will our elected official respond to this,” not, “Who will give the better answer?” I’d much rather have a country sounding governor pouring out his soul in front of the camera than to be as offended as I am whenever a press conference is held and the local official fails to mentioned incidents of importance. This happens too often when our local officials speak before the general public. It’s time we make them acknowledge our presence and what happens in our neighborhoods before the beginning of their campaigns and throughout their terms. In order to do so, you must vote but know that change does not end at the ballot.
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