“So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”
Midterm Election season is over and gone are the campaign ads and annoying robocalls, at least for now. What this election really meant and how it will shape the nation remains to be seen and there is plenty of speculation and attempts at precognition out there amongst the professional pundits, so I will spare you my analysis. The real question that comes to my mind in the wake of this topsy-turvy anything goes election cycle is “So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”
For many people, the answer is simple. They will slip back into the shadows, content that they have won the day for/against such and such ideology. Others are already looking to the next election, trying to figure out what went wrong and what was done right, and what moves are needed for the future. And yet others will continue to sit out of the whole process, convinced that neither party represents their interests. In my time of working behind the scenes in party politics, this is the most frustrating mindset to encounter. There’s no denying that both parties have their flaws, but in my experience the greatest flaw of the party system is one that is so easily fixed. It’s called “participation”. You see, any organization, be it political party, local church, Boy Scout troop, or book club, is only as good as the people who participate in it.
So if you want to make an impact on Alaskan or American politics, get involved! It’s a great way to be informed about what’s going on, who the candidates and elected officials are and what they really stand for, and to ensure that the two party system works effectively. If you are a student at UA-Fairbanks, there are groups for both college Republicans and Democrats, as well as regional party affiliates to the state party organizations. I won’t lie, it’s not always easy or rewarding, but in my opinion it beats sitting on the sidelines. To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings…” So I encourage young people to take up the fight, be the change you want to see in the world, and contribute to the political discussion in the state, because it’s your future too.
Disclosure: James Shewmake is the Vice President of the Alaska Young Democrats and student leader of the UAF Campus Democrats club. He has been active in party politics since 2002.