Get Out the Vote II
“No Nation can achieve peace, stability and economic growth if half the population is not empowered.” Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
The quote above was meant to apply to the Afghanistan, and specifically to the ability of women to vote. The women can vote, but many don’t. In their case it is frequently due to brutal and life threatening oppression. What about us I wonder?
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) roughly half of all eligible US citizens vote in presidential elections, and far less for local race. This leaves half of America disenfranchised and disempowered. Americans top priority issues are economic development and peace, so why do we choose disempowerment?
The number one reason Americans don’t go to the polls is that they are t busy! Yes it’s hard to believe, I mean how often do we have elections? Pen it into the calendar, put the alarm on the phone, and get to the polls. There are undoubtedly some people who work long shifts and there polls are far away. For them, there is always absentee. In the future undoubtedly the government will work out some type of on line voting. Until then we have to go the extra mile, and make it to the polls.
A veteran friend of mine who was having trouble with his discharge and VA claim told me with great conviction that the government was so corrupt that the only way to fix things is to tear it down to the bone and start over. This belief gets to the second main reason for Americans not voting. People believe that there is too much corruption for the elections to make a difference in their lives. They believe only those who are already wealthy or powerful can benefit.
The last main group of nonvoters are young, without much education, and mainly nonwhite. This is the group who are truly disenfranchised and disempowered. They live in America but nothing in their young lives has taught them that any of this applies to them. They live in places where a poll and their vote are some distant reality, like Mars. I am not a fatalist, we can reempower them. These youth are America’s future
Clinton’s words ring as true here as for Afghanistan, even though for different reasons. We as a nation have disempowered ourselves, and we need to put this right, for all of our sake.
1) Know when your elections are and make time in your schedule. Take time of if necessary and possible.
2) Make a party out of voting. Meet up with a bunch of family and friends, go out to eat, have a drink.
3) Get to know your candidates closely, meet them if possible. Read up on them on the internet. Go beyond what you see on TV, both campaign commercials, and smear spots. Call the 800 numbers and ask them specific questions on topics important to you and your community. Then pass that information along. Have get together with other community members and spread the word on who will matter to you.
For those in our community who have never felt for a moment that anything good in this country applies to them, it will be in all of our interest to get them out. Volunteer to drive around different neighborhoods in get out the vote drives. Make sure that people know the issues and have rides to the polls. Check out polling places. Make sure they are free from intimidation, and that first time voters have adequate help.
We are all in this little boat, the United States, together. One interdependent nation. We have the power. We aren’t using it and it shows.