What can we do?
Week after week this Monday space is filled with opinions about our government and elected officials. I hear from a lot of you, and as should be the case, some in agreement, others in disagreement.
A couple months ago, after writing a scathing article about one of our politicians, I was contacted by a reader with a simple enough question, “What can we do?”
The first thing that came to mind was to fire the elected official, but there wasn’t an election the next day. So, my advice was to contact the politician and let him know how you feel, and even more importantly, how you intend to vote next time around. Politicians may not always be responsive, but mention money or votes and generally you will get their attention.
Well, now there IS an election tomorrow. It should be called Employees Day, instead of Election Day because tomorrow you get the chance to hire your new employees. That’s right. The people listed on those ballots all want to work for you.
Who are you going to hire? Who are you going to fire? First I should ask if you are going to vote. If you don’t vote, somebody else is going to hire your employees. Is that what you want? I don’t. I want you to have a say in who will run our schools, our city, state and nation. If you don’t vote, that will make my vote even stronger. Is that what you want?
“What can we do?” she asked. It all starts with our vote.
My guess is less than half of York’s eligible voters will vote tomorrow. (I hope I’m wrong.) In Italy, 90 percent turn out to vote. Germany gets 80 percent. France, England, Canada are around 75 percent. The fact is America ranks about 35th in voter turnout. It’s a shame. Why?
Are we too busy to vote? Do we not care? Do we think “my” vote won’t change the outcome? I think those are excuses. I think people who don’t vote are shunning a very important responsibility given to us when this nation was founded. Freedom isn’t free, it comes with a price. That price is responsibility, and responsible Americans vote.
Maybe you think your vote doesn’t count. Barack Obama is our president, Dave Heineman our governor, Adrian Smith our congressman, Greg Adams our state senator, all because somebody voted. Don’t tell me votes don’t count. They do.
Maybe you think it doesn’t matter who gets elected. I disagree. It matters because the people you hire tomorrow will determine how our schools are operated. They will pass city ordinances. They will choose which roads get repaired. They will make state and federal regulations affecting our lives. They will decide how high our taxes will be and how to spend our tax money. Some may even be called on to vote to send Americans to war. Votes do matter.
And here’s the best part. You get to decide who makes those decisions. Why leave it up to somebody else?
So, “What can we do?” the reader asked a few months ago.
We can vote tomorrow. Then, after the election, we should contact those we hired (elected), and let them know how we voted and that we will be watching every move they make, and every vote they cast. After all, they will now represent you and me. Whether they walk into a school board meeting or onto the floor of the United States House of Representatives, they will be representing you and me. We place on them a great responsibility.
We will live up to our responsibility as United States citizens and exercise our right to vote. Will they live up to the responsibility it takes to govern? If they do, we may keep them employed. If they don’t, we’ll suggest they look for another line of work.
We will do this with our votes. Hope to see you at the polls.