Why is it important to be civically engaged in your community?
Author and educator Eric Liu defines civic engagement as “the art of citizenship,” but what does civic engagement mean to me? Civic engagement is when members of a community are aware of and participate in decisions being made at a city and county levels. This can take the form of voting in local elections, communicating with politicians, or educating yourself about current events and issues happening here in Richland County. Getting involved with grassroots politics is the most effective way to exert power on county-level. You don’t need to be a politician to shape policies and law—civic engagement requires the talent and voice of every member of the community.
City and county politics impact your on day to day life more than federal politics. For example, voting in local elections affects decisions about infrastructure, public schools, transportation, taxes, and environmental concerns. Additionally, advocating for causes you care about on a county level is the most effective strategy for change. It’s easier to open a dialogue with politicians like County Councilmembers because local politicians are, y’know--local, they are more aware of the issues facing our community and more likely to address those issues.
Also, civic engagement prevents corruption and tyranny. Participating in politics at a community level is the most efficient way to preserve democracy because your vote shows you are aware of local issues and care about the wellbeing of the community. By being civically engaged, you are a watchdog to ensure democracy and fairness prevails. We as voters hold politicians accountable at all levels of government, but especially at city and county levels where we can closely monitor the actions of these entities. As a member of our community, your opinion has lots of power and it’s up to you to wield that power to help improve Richland County for everyone.
Ultimately, you can better the lives of your neighbors and strengthen community. Simply by making your voice heard, you can literally transform your neighborhood. You can help make the roads better, protect greenspaces, support small businesses, and much more! Explore the links below to start becoming civically engaged. - Alex B.