The 2016 election had many of my friends feeling more disillusioned with politics than ever before. They didn't like any of the candidates. They thought it was a joke. They were tempted to abstain from voting altogether. There was no good option. But I didn't see it that way. I always vote. Here's why:
The presidential candidates get all the attention. People think they have the most power, and in a sense they do, but our daily lives are most impacted by the unsexy issues: the ballot propositions, the city council members, the local boards and ordinances.
In this past election, my home state of California had 17 ballot propositions. The issues they covered included: repeal of the death penalty, marijuana legalization, $9 billion in school funding, income tax increases, ammo purchase laws, a plastic bag ban, a $2 cigarette tax, government control of prescription drug pricing, a bilingual education mandate, a hospital fee bill, a legislative transparency bill, and more.
Even if I hated all the presidential candidates and decided not to vote for any of them, I can't imagine not voting on those ballot propositions. The amount of taxes I pay, how those taxes are used, and the government's ability to control things I want or might need to buy are issues that will have a direct impact on my life. And because these types of issues are voted on at the state or local level, my vote carries a lot more weight.
The next time you're feeling hopeless about the big political candidates and are thinking about staying home, I suggest you take a second look at the unsexy issues and see if you think they're worth your vote. I think you'll find that they are.