Monday, November 1, 2010

To Vote or Not to Vote

A little known fact about me. My bachelor’s is in broadcast journalism … but I have a minor in political science. So, I wanted to divert today’s post from the usual life coachy topics and talk about voting. Tomorrow is Election Day. Almost all American adults can exercise their right to vote, if they so choose. However, many of us don’t exercise this right and that’s fine with me.

I know at first glance that sounds positively heretical but hear me out. The right to vote is comes another ‘R’ – one no one likes to talk about – responsibility. You have the right to vote but you have the responsibility to make informed choices about who represents you. If you aren’t going to make an informed choice, I’d rather you not vote.

Voting because you recognize someone’s name or because he or she was a funny guest on a talk show is not an informed choice.

Case in point, in the spring, the democrats of South Carolina selected Alvin Greene, to run for the U.S. Senate against seasoned incumbent Jim DeMint. Greene is a man with no political background, and who did no campaigning prior to the election. Since he did no campaigning, no one knew who he was or where he stood on the issues. Sure he’s a democrat so you can assume you know his platform, but no one had heard the man actually speak.

Many people think he won because his name was first on the ballot or because his name sounded similar to 70’s soul singer Al Green. To their horror, when the actual Alvin Greene emerged, he could barely articulate his thoughts and had no real knowledge of the issues.

Voting matters and you should vote for people who represent your views and your interests. If you don’t know the views and interests of the people you are voting for, you are making some potentially bad decisions.

This is a midterm election and tomorrow, many people will not vote because, they say, “It’s just a bunch of local and state races and maybe a senator or congressmen. It’s not like we are electing the president.” However, in my estimation, midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections. Most of the issues that affect us the most are decided on the state or local level.

Unhappy with property taxes? It’s up to the city or the country to regulate those. They control the revaluations that determine your tax rate.

Tired of crime? It’s the local officials that run the police department and the local district attorney’s offices that prosecute criminals. And if it isn’t a federal offense, it’s up to the states to make sentencing laws.

Problems with the schools? School boards are always local and local and state governments play a much larger role than the federal government does in educating your kids.

Want more jobs? The states have the power to create the incentives and packages that will attract business and the tax rates that will pull them towards your state or drive them away.

Finally, you don’t have to vote in every single race. If you know whom you want to vote for in terms of congress people and city council members but you aren’t sure about the judges and other issues, then stick to voting in the races where you know what’s going on. There is no rule that says you have to vote in every race.

When it comes to voting take responsibility for exercising your right.

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