What the State Legislature Can Do For You

Lots of people don’t even think about the state legislature. They vote for the president of the United States and that’s all, and a lot of people don’t even bother to vote in the primaries in the presidential elections. Then, the same people wonder why the election keeps on getting decided for them and they don’t understand how they ended up with this particular person in charge. If you don’t vote in the state elections, I have less sympathy for you.

Too many people think of the United States as being a federation. It is one, but this is really not a country that is the same in every state. International visitors make that mistake all the time, thinking that the culture of the American South, or possibly Los Angeles and New York, represent the whole of the United States. Every state is like its own country in many ways, with many different unique laws and many different unique customs, even if a few federal laws unite the states.

The fight over healthcare over the course of the last decade has been devastating, and yet people in certain states have had healthcare the whole time. Gay marriage is now the law of the land, but it was the law of the land in some states for years. Fireworks are misdemeanors or worse in some states, and they are completely legal in others. Marijuana is a prison sentence in some states and a legal and encouraging health aid in others.

Do you ever wish that you could at least carve out a space where people agree with you politically and let you live the life that you choose, even if you can’t make it happen for the hundreds of millions of people in the United States? That’s the whole point of the state legislature. We help people decide how they want to live locally, knowing that getting everyone in this disparate country to agree on everything is really difficult. You have your sandbox and they have theirs. We’re the people in charge of how much sand you want in your particular sandbox, and that’s more than enough.

Lots of people don’t think that it counts unless it is national. However, all this means is that you’re letting people in Texas decide how people in Massachusetts are going to live. People in New York already want to live differently from people in Utah in most cases, and the laws that they have enacted have proven that over and over again. It is that much more important for people to remember that it is actually possible to remedy this situation.

You might not like the president. You might think that every single presidential election represents the battle between a rock and a hard place. Maybe you’ll even think that about state legislature. However, if you at least let your vote count in the context of the state legislature, you will at least be able to make sure that you tried to carve out a space in the country that you’re going to like.