Young people need to reset constituent focus from national to local politics

Montana Capitol Building in Helena, MT. (

Taylor Willmarth, Editor

At the nation’s founding following the American War of Independence, the widespread sentiment regarding a strong central government was hostile. The ability for a government to become a black hole of power was fresh in the minds of young leaders, and they were determined to avoid any form of autocracy. 

The Constitution was penned to allot only select powers to the federal government, and reserve most decisions of impact to be decided locally. Yet, as history has marched on, once very independent and unique states have grown increasingly closer. As a result, the power of the national government has grown exponentially and focus nationwide has centered on those in positions of federal power. 

This situation is grave as local and state leaders govern many of the day-to-day aspects of our lives. Mayors, commissioners, and state legislators are equally accountable to the people as representatives in the national government, yet they go largely unchecked by their constituents today. 

A key reason for the lack of constituent focus on local government is that the media focus is largely geared toward the national government. Large national media firms are financially equipped to deliver high quality and engaging coverage of events occurring in Washington. However, decisions made in Helena, Bismarck, Cheyenne, and other state capitals are equally important and deserve abundant attention. With the disappearance of local newspapers and the increasing number of news deserts nationwide, coverage of city halls across the country is in a downward spiral. 

It’s essential to the success of our country that this dangerous trend is reversed, and young people are uniquely positioned to address this issue. Our generation has not only the ability to support candidates and legislation that emphasize the importance of local politics, but to be the very candidates driving the change. Young people should support local journalists with a passion for in-depth coverage of local issues. We can demand a public education in our state that teaches students about the inner workings of local government and informs them about the ways they can get involved. 

This issue is equidistant from both political parties, and it will require bipartisan support to make change. Above all, it requires passionate young people to educate their peers, and leaders from older generations to nurture an accountable political environment that is more true to the vision of the founders of this country.

Montana Capitol Senate Chambers (


Montana Capitol Chambers of the House of Representatives (