Apathy is the enemy of democracy.
It maligns progress, and the irony is, it’s probably so common in America because we have it so good; because we’ve come so far as a nation in our relatively short history.
I think too often our fellow citizens become disillusioned with the political process, and for good reason. There’s gridlock, partisanship, greed, corruption, cronyism, nepotism — the list is long and undistinguished, no doubt.
But that’s all the more reason to register and cast your vote for whoever you believe will represent you and your values the best. I know that’s not always easy. I’ve been guilty of staying home on election day like the millions of eligible voters that didn’t turn out two years ago.
Do these sentiments sound familiar?
I’m just one person, my vote won’t make a difference; I don’t know enough about the candidates to vote for any of them; or my favorite, I just don’t have the time to vote.
Well, I’m here to tell you, your vote does matter. You may not see it everyday, but government and politics pervade nearly every aspect of our society. The roads we drive, the conditions under which we work, the businesses we frequent and the health of our families and communities are all affected by those we put in public office. The people in charge of government most certainly leave their fingerprints on our lives for years, if not decades, after they leave office.
And if you’re like me, you don’t have the disposable income it takes to influence candidates or “educate” voters via political advertising to push or pull them in one direction or another.
We can, however, exercise our constitutionally protected right to vote to influence candidates now and in the future. We can also use our voices, which thanks to social media have been multiplied exponentially, to do the same.
In the last presidential election in 2008, national voter turnout was 61.6 percent of eligible voters, according to George Mason University. That’s pretty good, but not as high as it could be if we shake off this disconnected view of civil society where one life does not affect all others.
Unfortunately, two years later in the 2010 mid-term election, turnout dropped to 41 percent, which means a minority of eligible voters decided the outcome.
If you don’t feel informed enough to go to the polls this year, with a little effort, you can learn enough about the candidates to cast a ballot.
They all have websites, watching the upcoming Presidential debates can help, too. And of course, we at The Press will do our best to keep you up to speed on the local races and issues.
In fact, we’ll host in late October our second political forum of this election season. Candidates for sheriff and two county commission seats will be invited to present and answer questions submitted by the public. Send your suggestions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, call the office at 259-2400 or drop by 104 S. 5th St. downtown. You can also contact us on Facebook. It’s also extremely easy to register and vote.
Supervisor of Elections Nita Crawford and her staff will answer any questions you may have and ensure you’re squared away to vote, whether it’s during early voting the week prior to the November 6 general election, by absentee ballot through the mail or at the polls on election day.
There’s really no good reason to stay home in 2012, so I beg you, please don’t.
Regardless of your party or political persuasion, stand up, be counted and fight for what you believe. If nothing else, a boisterous turnout will send a valuable message to our political leaders: you cannot take us for granted anymore.