A part of my morning ritual is to skim through news media outlets. I am not a fan of any one news channel in particular nor of any one paper, but it is very clear that the political climate today is increasingly fractured. Almost daily, there is an extra few ounces of craziness happening at Washington, D.C. This United States is definitely not the one I envisioned while boarding onto the Boeing 777 as an immigrant and frankly, as a naturalized citizen, I’d like to brag about the country I came to as an immigrant to my folks back home. Sadly so, today’s political climate gives me no bragging rights!
In a one-word summary, it is deeply disappointing, not to mention distracting. Too often I find myself tempted to click on just “one more” article. Maybe on a positive note, I can tell myself that for once, it is not the Kardashians being sensationalized but rather American politics sweeping the country by storm.
Now political pundits may call this “situation” whatever they want to—a movement, a delocalization, or decreasing sense of democracy—but one reason is also the gaping disconnect between the average voter and Washington, D.C.
The four levels of government in this country make voting, especially during national elections, a far-removed process. People are given the responsibility to choose the fate of policies favored by different candidates. At best, these are policies whose level of complexity not everyone understands. Policies that don’t fully make sense in the convoluted way it is written. Policies that maybe, in their minds, are irrelevant to them. So how do you make a connection between voters’ choice and its impact on them?
Recent history has shown that you can’t force people to understand this relationship. Or else why would there be such massive support to break apart a healthcare provision that impacts millions of Americans, not just impacts them but one that actually provides them with previously unavailable healthcare? Regardless, I have to try. And maybe the easiest way to force you to embrace this relationship is to break it down piece-by-piece.
Every day, as you go through your rituals, be conscious of the following: the water you drink is regulated by the state or local agency which receives guidelines from its governing federal agency. It is the federal agency that sets the minimum standards for the state governments to adhere to, including setting water toxicology standards, providing technical guidance, approving waterway construction, and maintaining transparency. In gambler’s terms, federal law trumps state and/or local law (I know, I know, this pun was ill-timed!).
With this hierarchical process in place for all policies, it is no wonder that there is a prevailing feeling of disjointedness between voters and our county’s capital. Between the legs and the head, the torso is entirely missing. So how do you find the connection? How do we understand that ballots have long-lasting effects on our daily lives?
In the increasing partisan media, where one side slings mud at the other, finding this connection has become the voter’s responsibility. As youth living in a climate without complete governmental transparency and a bullying disregard for decades-old alliances, it has your job to go on a quest to find a bipartisan media source—a source that is credible, that considers multiple perspectives, that aligns with your personal values, and that, most importantly, brings together your country.
While we only serve local youths, we want any young person that is reading this blog to know that we care about their about wellbeing. Young people represent our future leaders, and if we want a better community, we should work together. As youth of the free world, you have the right to organize your community. Talk to your friends, teachers, parents, and colleagues about the wrongs you feel and see. Write letters, opinion editorial pieces to your local newspaper, make phone calls, and advocate on social media. Press your legislators so that their votes on crucial policies embody your own. Remember, these are the same policies that will trickle down in some form to impact your life.
Without such wholesome effort from youth who will become you and I tomorrow, our fractured country will become irreparable, problem-oriented rather than solution-focused, and we will continue feeling voiceless in an increasingly vocal world.