Elections are about answering questions — not just about who will be elected, but about what we as a society value. We are just a little over two weeks away from an election in my country, the United States of America, and the presidential contest is getting all the attention and press. Interesting since who gets elected to that office will still leave  some important questions unanswered. The President’s powers are limited, so who holds that office will not determine the answers to questions like:

  • Will low-income Americans earn a higher minimum wage?
  • How will the public pensions issue be resolved without leaving current and future retirees financially insecure?
  • How will funding be allocated to public universities or for child-care assistance or for mental health care?
  • Will poor people have access to health insurance?

It’s the so-called “down ticket” elections that will answer these questions and others like them. And I’m not just talking about who we elect as U.S. Senators and Representatives. As an editorial in The Christian Century put it (11 November 2015), “The real action is at the state and local levels. This is where minimum wage ordinances are being debated and passed, where public unions and social welfare advocates are squaring off against budget hawks, where federal money often arrives in the form of flexible block grants that might or might not be put to effective use.”

The editorial goes on, “Local levels of government are also where an individual’s voice and vote count the most. And the smaller the jurisdiction, the more likely a political conversation will involve citizens who know each other — people whose real relationships can help get them past slogans and entrenched positions.”

So, pay attention to those “down ticket” elections. Please.