Stay active after the elections

Voting may be the best way to shape democracy, but there are other ways to stay involved.

There was so much buzz around the state and national elections this year that, come Tuesday, it felt like the process just had to be about over. Now that it is, we want to take the time to remind students that just because there are no political campaigns to volunteer for and no candidate debates to attend, there are still many ways to stay involved in our political system.

After the elections are over, it is easy to want to just sit back and expect that those elected will do their job according to the platforms upon which we elected them. But as we know very well, this is often not the case.

We have elected numerous new politicians to represent our state in the House of Representatives as well as a new senator. Whether or not the candidate whose bubble you filled in on Tuesday was elected, it is important to continue checking in on them and how they are voting on issues that affect you, your state and your nation.

By continuing to work aggressively on issue-based campaigns, students and state citizens have the power to continue to influence the choices made by our representatives in government. Also, there should be issues that you care about enough to write your senators or House representative about. So do it. Call their offices. Let them know how their choices are affecting students across the state. When issues that you care about are drifting through committees, why not spend a day at the Capitol doing some lobbying.

There are hundreds of student groups at the University that work toward accomplishing a political agenda. Students can involve themselves in groups that vary in causes from taking big money out of elections to the ever-escalating crisis overseas in Darfur. Students can participate in the Minnesota Student Association or the Graduate and Professional Student Association, our student government associations at the University.

Although we, as citizens, consider the right to vote our most powerful tool in shaping our democracy, there are also many other ways that one can involve himself or herself to influence the course of politics. We need to assert our position as a continual and permanent check on our institutions of power.