People generally refer to elections such as the ones taking place all over America today as “off-year elections.” The implication is that it’s not as big a deal as the “on-year” elections (i.e., Federal elections).
This is, frankly, a subversion of what the Founders of this nation envisioned. To the Founding Fathers, it was local politics that was most important. The more localized the election, the louder the voice of the citizen. When the Constitution was ratified, there wasn’t even a direct election of Senators. For the Federal Government, the citizens voted for a Representative and a President. These elections were considered less important because the Founders understood that under the U.S. Constitution the powers granted to the Federal government were extremely limited. The powers of state and local governments were the most important part of the new nation.
Even today, citizens vote for a President, two Senators, and one Representative in national elections. That’s it. On a state level (and the rules can vary but this is generally true, we vote for a Governor, a state senator, and a state representative. Statewide, we also vote on referendum, amendments to state constitutions, etc. We vote for more things statewide than nationally because our voice is supposed to be louder in the state than in the Federal government.
Locally, we vote for a wide range of offices: County supervisors, town supervisors, judges, tax receivers, school boards, councilmembers, clerks, highway superintendents, etc.
Elections such as the 2009 election are not “off-year.” They are the most important elections to our daily lives. Your town supervisor and town council have much more say over your day-to-day life than Barack Obama does. The promotion of these elections as somehow being “off” is just another symptom that we as a nation are merrily walking the road to serfdom. We feel that only the Federal elections and, maybe, gubernatorial elections, are important. By feeling this way, we are bestowing more power on the portions of government in which we have the least amount of impact.
So go vote. Make your voice heard locally, and remember that the national representatives are paying attention to these local races. These are the races that illustrate the real voices of the citizens before those voices are filtered through lawyers and lobbyists.