Today the legislative session for the state I live in, Colorado, is coming to an end. And this has me reflecting on the often-overlooked significance of local and state government. I know we’re all a little (or a lot) disgruntled with government nowadays. I am not naive. But read this post and hear me out. And consider why it can help you, and us all, to focus on local and state government issues to stay sane right now. Especially if you’re writing about anything relevant to the current world in which we live.
Focus on local and state government for a more immediate and effective impact in the real world
First, it’s important to point out that most issues we care about, and that will have the most immediate effects on us individually, start at the local level. While everyone (myself included) reads headlines about the US Supreme Court and US Congress and the US White House, most legislation that affects us profoundly, and that we can create and affect ourselves, is state-level legislation.
All one needs to do is consider laws and restrictions upheld during the COVID pandemic, which varied from state to state and county to county, to see how critical and tangible local and state government is. Or consider local voting laws, especially those that allow residents to vote by mail. Or consider local legislation and laws regarding the environment, taxes, labor, healthcare, abortions, etc.
Look at Colorado as an example
Using my state, Colorado, for example, one sees how local voting laws affect voter turnout and representation. Especially during a pandemic. Colorado consistently has one of the highest voter turnout rates and conducts the most secure elections in the nation. How? Mail-in voting is the default for all of our elections, not an exception. Because I always get my ballot mailed directly to me, with Colorado’s Blue Book, I remain an informed citizen who knows what’s going on in my local community and state. And I’m actually empowered to vote, at my own convenience.
It’s also interesting and compelling to note how different each county in Colorado handled mandates and restrictions during the pandemic and what the results were. Not every county handled the pandemic the same. Yet each voter and resident was able to have his or her voice heard in his or her own community. And most saw tangible real-world results, even if they weren’t necessarily desirable to some. I’m not saying it was perfect. But people were heard and had an impact on their local communities and what happened in them.
An important example of state legislation in Colorado
It’s especially important to note the legislation passed this last session that will ensure the right to an abortion in Colorado. This state-level legislation will impact Coloradans more immediately. It will likely influence local legislation in other states too. And it will also likely affect future legislation that could reach the US Supreme Court should Roe v Wade be overturned. Because if Roe v Wade is overturned, states and local governments will then dictate the law, which will be dictated by its local residents. And if we have more of an impact on local-level government, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
[Check out this post I wrote: 5 ways overturning Roe v. Wade could help pro-choicers .]
In a nutshell, when I focus on legislation in my county and state, I see the impacts it will have on me and my community more profoundly. I also see what I can do to impact the world in which I live much more clearly. Tackling something as big as Roe v Wade at the federal level, or poverty at the federal level, for example, can seem daunting to the average citizen simply trying to work and live day-to-day. It’s not because the average citizen doesn’t care at all!
But focusing on local-level issues can be empowering, less time-consuming, and keep everyone saner. And ultimately prove more effective for the entire nation. Why? Because legislation tends to work its way up to the federal level from the local level. Not the other way around. And this is a good thing if citizens are more informed and involved, and are able to vote and engage in local issues impacting their communities with ease.
How focusing on state and local government will help my current writing project
In the novel I’m currently working on, my characters are going to encounter some major obstacles they need to overcome. These obstacles come about due to federal laws and regulations, or lack thereof. But I’m hoping that by focusing on their local communities and state-level governments, they’ll be able to make some real headway in overcoming their obstacles.
In my novel, I’m going to try and address legislation, and lack thereof, surrounding data rights, human and civil rights, and economic rights—which ultimately all coincide with one another– to illustrate their real-world ramifications on my characters, who are going to be modeled after people in the real world.
Do you know what’s going on in your state legislature or local government right now? Why or why not? And how have you affected change in your local community recently? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Or tag @kecreighton on Facebook or Medium to start a dialogue.
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If you liked reading this post, consider making a monthly donation to keep this blog going. Fifty percent (50%) of all donations made on this website go to Creighton’s Compositions LLC, so K.E. Creighton can keep writing, and maintaining this blog. The other fifty percent (50%) of all donations made on this website go toward literacy and or social justice initiatives at the end of every month. This month’s initiative: HELPING THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF UKRAINE.THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
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