Opinion: Every season is the season for political engagement

Students should not wait until the next election to be involved in local and national politics

As the 2018 election comes to an end, many students feel satisfied that they’ve done their part for democracy by voting. They now feel the desire to take a break from politics. 

However, students should pay attention to politics even after election season. 

Learning how to get involved between now and the 2020 elections could make all the difference on the issues that ASU students care about. 

According to a report from TargetSmart, voter registration among Arizonans ages 18 to 29 increased by 7.6 percent between the 2014 and 2018 midterms. 

Tuesday night’s midterm elections resulted in a more bi-partisan government. While Republicans maintained control of the Senate, Democrats managed to flip 27 seats and gain control of the House. 

In Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick defeated Republican incumbent for District 2, Lea Marquez Peterson, and no matter who wins the Senate race between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally, Arizona will send its first female Senator to Washington D.C.

However, the efforts to become involved in the country’s democratic process shouldn’t stop with voting.

Michael Chacon, an ASU graduate student pursuing a PhD in political science, said it is important to continue the dialogue about issues during the election off-season.

“If we continue this trend of only being active during campaigns, it becomes easy for our views to be dismissed by rival partisans,” Chacon said. “A more civically engaged population provides an avenue to quell some of the hyper-partisanship we are facing.”

The efforts to create the change young people would like to see doesn’t end at the polls. There are plenty of other things that ASU students can do to get involved.

In a CNN article following the 2016 election, AJ Willingham suggests that students should start by educating themselves about their local politics. Regardless of what state students are from, they should find out who their representatives are based on their legislative district and learn how to contact them. 

Additionally, ASU students, along with the rest of the general public, should attend town hall and city council meetings. These are great places to get a closer look at local politics and make themselves heard. 

Often the policies that affect ASU students day-to-day are decided at the local and state level, not in Washington D.C.

Chacon encouraged involvement at every level and said “involvement can be as big as holding a sign and marching or as small as facilitating a conversation."

He emphasized the importance of students to try and reach across the aisle to their peers.

"Ultimately, connecting with someone on the other side of the aisle may be the most effective way for us to bridge our ideological gaps and encourage more voices to be represented in the political arena,” he said.

If ASU students want to bring the changes they care about to Arizona, being civically involved is not something that should only happen every two years.

Reach the reporter at cfusillo@asu.edu or follow @katiefusillo on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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