Political cynics love to broadcast the broken state of affairs in Washington and how there is no point in voting. To a certain degree, they are right. With the frequency and relative accuracy of state opinion polls, analysts can predetermine the outcome of most of the presidential results. As residents of Missouri, our votes mean nothing in a presidential election decided by the Electoral College. Missouri will undoubtedly go to Mitt Romney while voters in key battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia will actually determine the presidential election on Nov.. 6. In a country proud of its democratic values, our voting system is actually not very democratic.
Nonetheless, this does not mean you should ignore the political process altogether come election day. The glitz and glamour of national politics overemphasizes the importance of presidential and congressional decisions. In many ways, federal policy does affect us, but not nearly as much as the local policy. We often hear right-winged pundits decrying the burdens imposed by the socialist in the White House waging a war against the middle class through raising taxes and increasing his own power. It is easy to blame politicians in Washington for the economic problems we face, but many of the policy decisions of Missouri, and especially St. Louis County and St. Louis City, are up to the voters.
In April of 2012, a St. Louis County proposal allowing the county to borrow up to $100 million to renovate court buildings and to build a new family court passed by 16,000 votes. In the same election, voters in Creve Coeur, Olivette and Ladue passed a property tax increase from $0.48 to $3.24 for every $100 of property owned. The embracing of taxes in well-to-do municipalities not only contradicts their national anti-tax candidate voting record, but it also underscores the value of understanding the impact of local legislation. State issues should also take precedent to national ones. There are several impactful measures on the ballot of the general election in less than two weeks. A “yes” vote for Proposition A would increase the governor’s power and control over St. Louis City’s police force.
A “yes” vote for Proposition B would, yet again, increase taxes on cigarettes. A “no” vote on Proposition E would allow the governor to create a state-based health insurance exchange — a vital component to Obamacare. In a political arena dominated by national issues, it should be a lot easier to see how these local issues affect us. Yes, Chinese currency manipulation and runaway government spending do affect us indirectly, but those issues should not be focused on with a magnifying glass in the ways our state and local measures should. There is also the senatorial race between Sen. Claire McCaskill and the controversial Rep. Todd Akin.
If you are not interested in this race anymore because they aren’t talking about Akin’s off-the-cuff comments, then you should start listening closer. McCaskill just began running a televised ad featuring an anti-spending and pro-life woman who claims she will not vote for Akin because of his insensitive and unintelligent rape statements. But this race shouldn’t just be about what Akin thinks about rape. It’s about who will represent you and all Missourians in Washington, D.C. So, if you are too wrapped up in the presidential election to care about what is going on locally, or if you don’t care about politics at all, then think about whether you feel comfortable not participating in decisions that will affect your life politically and financially.