Why Vote

by Belinda Munoz on November 6, 2012

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GOT JUNK? (MAIL, THAT IS.)

Eighty-five and counting. That’s how many political campaign flyers my husband and I have received since we last checked our mail a few days ago.

Want to know how many of those flyers swayed my vote? Zero. That’s because I cast my vote weeks ago before I had the wherewithal to leaf through the flyers claiming to “crack down on corruption”, “save public education” or “keep the neighborhood safe”.

GOT GUILT? (OR A WEE BIT OF SELF-RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION?)

I have minor guilt referring to those glossy pieces of full-color propaganda as “junk”. After all, precious union labor and time were spent producing those mailers that cost serious dollars raised by consultants, friends and supporters who, more or less, champion the candidate or issue now boiled down to a catchy slogan.

I could get bent out of shape over the trees that were needlessly chopped down for the ephemeral, and frankly rarely memorable, message printed with non-soy-based ink on non-recycled-stock (that, to the dismay of many artsy moms, is too heavy to make papier mache art projects with their wee ones). But that’s another matter worthy of its own PBS segment.

GOT DEMOCRACY?

Like most people, I prefer to live my life rather than spend it sorting through the politics behind the policies. But the real issue is not the ad buys, the amount of money raised or the messaging tactics. The real important issue that is too often eclipsed by the ubiquitous mud-slinging and relentless button-pushing is that we need to remember who holds the power. A few times a year (not just during a presidential election year though the mainstream media may have it appear otherwise), we, the people, have a chance to formally and officially use our voice and make it count.

Voting is a chance to “give the people what they want”. As I heard Gloria Steinem say recently, voting is the great equalizer where the vote of any citizen bears the same weight as the vote of any billionaire CEO. For a country with rights and privileges the envy of many nations, it’s interesting that voter turnout in 2008 was only 58%. What about the remaining 42% of the voting age population who didn’t make it to the polls? What matters to them? Voter/employee intimidation aside, it remains a mystery without their votes cast in the ballot box.

In a democracy, voting is a privilege that, by design, exists to remind us how much power we hold collectively. It’s a chance to decide who’s best to represent our families and communities, to weigh in on the issues that affect our lives and to improve and/or alter the course of our future. It’s not without its flaws, and we won’t all come to an agreement. If I want to do my part in preserving democracy, it makes sense to stay in the system and vote — for what I believe is possible, for what I know is right for my family and me, and for what responsibilities I can commit to share with my community. Relinquishing it is also an option, I suppose, but one that is tantamount to saying, “I don’t matter” or “I don’t count”, which is cynical and false. Ask any tax collector or peddler of Apple products. Worse yet, the inaction of not voting has ill effects that the next generation is too young to know and does not deserve to inherit.

โ€œAnti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” ~ Isaac Asimov

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Red or blue or green?
What’s your vote worth to you?

Do we have an obligation to those who fought for suffrage and women’s suffrage?
Do we grasp the true value of something only when it is threatened?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ayala November 6, 2012 at 7:37 am

Wise words my friend. Voting is a privilege. I had you in my thoughts yesterday and I am so happy to see you here today. I have missed you. I hope all is well. xoxo

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2 One Love Around the World: Janny T. November 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

So glad you are back Belinda! I am voting today and feeling great

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3 Robin November 6, 2012 at 11:54 am

I am not involved in politics. I don’t work on campaigns or fund raise for a party or a candidate. But, I do vote. I grew up in a home where politics was part of life. My father did do all of those things that I do not do, including hold a local political office. It is beyond me how some Americans choose not to exercise their right to vote, a right that has been hard won for some. Is is apathy? Do they take our freedoms for granted? Or are they sick of how divisive and polarized our government has become? I wish I knew. Imagine not caring about who will be President for the next 4 years.

For some reason, the only political mail I received this year was a sample ballot ๐Ÿ™‚

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4 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri November 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm

So glad to see your words.

My facebook status today: In Brunei, Saudi Arabia, and Vatican City women are not allowed to vote. People in our country died so that we could have the privilege to vote. My message today is simple. Vote.

Important post Belinda. Thank you.

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5 Sara November 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm

You’d really get along well with my eldest daughter. She’s been living in the UK for many years, but still votes in our elections. She sends her vote across the sea and makes sure she gets to be heard.

Like you, I’d voted early and still had to deal with flyers and who knows how many interrupting calls, but we are lucky to have this privilege.

I really liked what Gloria Steinem said. That’s a great quote!

If my town is like others, I think this election will show a much higher voting percentage. We had lots of people out, many of them voting early at our local libraries — you vote there without having to go to your specific precinct. I voted through the mail.

It’s nice to have you back.

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6 BigLittleWolf November 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

As happy as I am to have this election (finally) behind us, the real point is now ahead of us. The work of it. How we, the “little guys,” can some how get the Bigger Guys we elected (and some we didn’t) to play well in groups.

We teach our kids to do it. We teach our sports teams to do it. We train corporate America to do it.

What’s up with our politicians who don’t?

That’s a “change” I’d be down for.

As to voting, it feels good – solid – important – to be part of that process. The place I voted you could sense both calm and seriousness about all of it. It’s a privilege as well as a right, and a responsibility.

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7 Sara December 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Just stopping by to say hello. I hope you’re busy with your life and happy. If I don’t get by again, do have a nice holiday with your family. Be good to yourself:~)

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