Politics

Local vs. national elections: Which is more important?

WRITTEN BY
01/16/24
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Fact Box

  • Congressional elections occur every two years to determine who is elected to Congress to represent the state in the US House and Senate and occur every two years. Local elections include voting for city mayors, governors, school board members, etc., and voting for or against ballot initiatives in an electorate’s immediate local area of living.
  • Presidential elections occur nationally in the US every four years where the people vote on the President and Vice President are chosen by “electors” through a process called the electoral college.
  • For the 2022 midterms, “nearly identical majorities of voters for candidates in both parties say they are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ motivated to vote.” 
  • According to the US Census Bureau, the 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout in the 21st century, with 155 million people sending in their votes. 
  • The ten states with the highest rates of voter registration are: Maine, Alaska, Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, Colorado, Alabama, and New Jersey.

Chad (Local)

The mainstream media and 24-hour news cycle have hijacked how we get our news. More people are now concerned about things that don't affect them or are happening thousands of miles away. While many of us focus on national-level politics, local politics have the most direct impact on our lives. It is the level of politics we can most effectively get involved in and make changes. From choosing school boards to sheriffs, judges, and council members, the local political levels impact our communities the most. It's also where one's vote counts the most, proportionally. But today, many of us can name senators from states we never even visited and can't name a single local leader. 

Taking action at the local level is the fastest way for a person to change their community. The local leaders choose how and where money is spent, which development projects go through, how new rules and regulations are implemented and enforced, and so much more. It also decides who eventually represents us in Congress and how they vote.  

Participating in one's local politics builds communities, creates support networks, and catalyzes change much quicker than shouting on social media about what's happening in Washington, DC. Our system of democracy relies on the involvement of the people—citizens and their neighbors. 

If people want to improve their city this year, they should take some time attending meetings or reading up on what's happening in their local area. They might find that once they start getting involved at the local level, they will be more focused on positive action than negative political campaigns or national issues that are mostly outside their control. 


Elliot (National)

While voting in local elections is important, voting in a federal election has a greater impact on one’s life. The federal government controls taxes, immigration policy, certain gun, first amendment, and employment laws, and determines whether the nation goes to war, etc. Conversely, local elections only really have the power to change minor bylaws, such as the penalty for breaking noise curfews. 

Citizens can still affect local politics by voting in federal elections. If local autonomy is important to them, they can vote for a president who shares these values—perhaps someone who promises to give more independence to individual states and municipalities. This is also known as republicanism, the philosophy that defines the American system of government in which the people elect leaders to represent them in Congress for a specific time and for the benefit of everyone in the republic. Likewise, it is important to remember that national elections can influence the outcomes of local elections in many situations. 

One of the biggest issues in the modern era is inflation and money printing. This directly impacts a person's local experiences, as the price of goods in one's area are significantly affected by price surges. This inflation will not decrease until a federal government that stops printing so much money is elected. No matter how effective a town's mayor might be, they can't affect the policy of the Federal Reserve. Inflation and the price of living are among the most basic issues that everyone faces. Government funding for local programs must also be approved at the federal level. So much is directly impacted by those we elect to shape the policies that affect the people in everyday localities. That's why voting, especially for national, congressional elections, is highly essential to the function and health of our republic.

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