Well, now that everyone is back in school, life seems to be getting back into its normal routine. People will be working away until the holidays come. However, before Thanksgiving and Christmas come along, it will be election time in the United States of America. Candidates are beginning to rev up on their final stretch of the campaign trail. There is a stronger presence as they show their faces at public events so that we can get to know them a little better. When candidates share their lives and opinions with us it doesn’t only benefit them, but it really benefits us. During this time we have a chance to “get to know” them a little bit better and find out whom fits closest to what we believe. We want to vote for candidates who represent us (and our views on topics that are important to us) best. Each one of our votes count and make a difference.
In a recent Facebook post, I wrote:
“ If Voting Really Doesn't Matter...
• Why did people of color and women go through what they did to get the right to vote?
• Why do those in power try to keep others from voting?
• Why do politicians spend so much time, money & effort trying to get you to vote for them?
• Why is it that it's more educated people actually voting?
How do you think the rules, laws & policies that effect our every day lives are coming into play?!?!
Seriously, each & every single vote counts...don't be too busy, too distracted or just not care...because elections effect each & every one of us.
I am aware that there are myths floating around that deceive people into believing “my one vote does not count,” but that is far from the truth. When you have thousands of people believing that same thing, it can change who gets voted into that seat in office. If your vote did not count candidates would not spend so much money and time trying to win you over simply trying to gain your vote. Another common myth that we hear is all politicians are liars. Although there have been many politicians who have come in and made empty promises or have gotten caught in scandals, there are many more still who work very hard representing us well and fighting for the needs of the community when it comes to strategic planning or implementation of public policy. So if the belief that politicians are liars is stopping you from voting that is a mistake; it should motivate you to vote so that we ensure as a collective that there are good, honest people in office.
When I was in elementary school many years ago, we learned the electoral process by taking votes on some of the simplest things. We were taught that we had a voice and that voice could make a difference. We were taught that if we wanted something a certain way there were steps we could take to make it happen. These things were instilled into us at a young age. We must continue that education and engagement of the next generation so that they too see it as a natural process. For some of us, it may take a little more effort to change our mindsets, that our voice counts, but it can be done.
I want you to really give this some serious thought: Many people are choosing to be a part of a political party because their families or people they deeply respect are a part of that party. Some of those same people do not even believe in the same things that party does. Tradition and not individual values have shaped the outlook. The same truth can be said for voting for a particular candidate although we have not taken time to review their political track record. We could be casting our votes haphazardly. So many times people will vote for a candidate based on what their friends, peers and other trusted sources are telling them. But they do not know what the candidate truly believes.
Why is it so important for us to know what the candidates believe? Well, once he or she is elected into office they are going to be making decisions, and creating and implementing policies and laws that are going to affect your life and the future of our community. What if the candidate for example, desires to tear down your neighborhood in order to build a new shopping center and give home owners cash to move out of the area but that transition is not in your master plan? It sounds far-fetched but changes are taking place all around us and the decision makers we vote for are a part of representing the change we want to see or in maintaining stability in areas that were are satisfied with. So let's do our part and take our electoral rights seriously. If we want our elected officials and people in power making those decisions to speak for us, to stand us for us and to consider us, then we need people in office who can represent us. The only way to get them into office to actively participate in getting them there, and one way to do that is by voting them into office.
I love the fact that during election time my family and I will have discussions about candidates and propositions. When my daughter was 7 years old she “voted” by sharing with us who she wanted to win. We discuss major topics and propositions because ultimately they effect the way we all live life here in our country. We watch the results together and cheer our candidates on. We don’t always agree with each other’s choices, but we respectfully hear each other out and have very good discussions. Not only does this encourage healthy debates, but it is instilling good voting practices into my children at a young age.
I was 18 years old the first time that I voted. I was very excited about it because it was a new right that I wanted to exercise. I am pretty opinionated and have strong beliefs, so I wanted to participate in the process of determining who entered office. Another reason for my jubilation was that I sincerely value my right to vote so much so because I know that if I was born earlier I would not possess these same rights. Women did not earn the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. It wasn’t until the 15th Amendment was passed in 1870 that granted citizens the right to vote, regardless of race or color. Not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 removed other unnecessary barriers which were stopping African Americans from voting did a complete opening of electoral citizen based rights become set. I am aware that many people paid a huge price, some including their lives, in order for people like myself to have the right to vote. I do not take that lightly and appreciate the fact that I can vote.
I want to encourage everyone who is able to vote to register and remain an active participant in the electoral process. If you need to update your voter registration now is a very good time to do so. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. We still have a little bit of time until election, so please take the time to get to know who and what you are voting for. Don’t wait until a person gets into office and have regrets. Find out what they believe, what they have accomplished and their voting pattern has been in the past with where they have cast their votes on in previous years. Make informed decisions. Your one vote does count. Your say makes a difference. Let’s work on having more people in office that will truly represent the community's people and represent us well.