I spent election night at the Webster County Courthouse, reporting voter results as they came in from each precinct. It has been several years since I’ve been at the courthouse on election night, and boy–was it different.
For as long as I can remember, hundreds of people would gather in the lobby to watch the boards as they were updated on election night. Men, women, children, families, constituents of the folks running for office and altogether citizens who simply cared about the matters at hand.
This year, I could count the number of people in the lobby on both hands. My first thought was COVID–maybe people just aren’t gathering to avoid the risk of exposure.
However, as I spoke with the few others who came and then left for other watch parties before any results came in, I learned it’s been a few years since the boards were hung in the lobby.
A lot of it could have to do with electronic distribution of results or the fact that so many local races went uncontested, but people just don’t get together at the courthouse like they used to.
Up until my college years, politics were always exciting for me. Election years brought door-knocking, parade-walking and so many fun events.
The same is probably true for most children that grew up with politicians in the family. It truly meant something to be involved in our local community.
I guess it gets less exciting as you get older and topics get harder to discuss. It’s no longer just a parade or a handshake, it’s having to address disagreements with those of another party in an educated and respectful way.
Rather than do that, I think a lot of people just avoid it entirely - which is okay, I did that for several years. However, I think it’s important to have the tough conversations in order to keep a community involved in local politics.
I cherish the years I spent growing up, running around the courthouse in wander as the adults celebrated when numbers were posted on the boards.
I know so many people of Webster County due to those years I spent growing up in politics, campaigning and going to the big watch party. Thinking back, many of them were around my age, maybe a bit older.
Part of me feels like that’s the problem–younger people are just not getting as involved in politics at the local level. If I’m not mistaken, Hannah Kelly was the only person around my age on the ballot this year.
It’s not that I have anything against elder generations–I was actually discussing this very topic with an “older” elected official that night.
When the current elected officials decide not to run for re-election, who is going to dig down and learn the inner workings to take over their positions?
Our youth is our future. As my own youth dwindles, I realize that it’s more important now than ever to learn from our elders and get involved in building our communities.
I sure hope the days of courthouse watch parties aren’t over–whether I’m reporting or not, I will be there next election. I hope you’ll join me!