November 14, 2012With the election season over, there is a sense of relief that all of the campaigning is finally finished.
In my lifetime, there has never been a bigger, more important race than the one between President Barack Obama and his opponent, Mitt Romney.
Now, I don't want to get into all of the politics of each party's platform. We've heard enough of it already.
My motives are a little more direct than that.
I'm a little aggravated with voter turnout in our local area. In Crawford County, the turnout was a little more than 51 percent of registered voters.
A lot of people will say, "Hey! You got half of the people out; that's really awesome!"
It's not, in fact, "awesome."
There was more at stake in this election than perhaps in any other election that I've been a part of, and the best we can turn out is half of the registered voters in the county actually going to the polls?
Health care, our education, our economy and our freedoms as a people all hinge on who we elect to represent us in office and their interpretation of this little document called the Constitution of the United States of America.
If only 50 percent of people vote, then less than 50 percent of the overall population is being represented!
This year, I took my younger sister to my local polling place. It is a trip that my brother and I have made with our mother in the past, and it is a task I was proud to be allowed to do when it came time for my sister to be educated on one of our most important rights as U.S. citizens.
She was very insightful for a 15-year-old. But I digress.
I've already heard the phrase "four more years" more times than I can count since Election Tuesday, but, in the same breath, many people also voiced that they exercised their choice not to vote.
Like I'm going to be impressed with that. Wrong!
How can you complain about the guy who's elected if you don't vote?
The right to vote is one that we have fought wars over … people have died in the pursuit of the democratic process. They're still dying for it today.
We allow our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends to fight for our rights and to protect those rights and our person from those who would oppose us and take them away.
What do we say to those brave men and women when we don't show up each election year en force?
It seems to me to be more of a slap in the face to them than a thank you. The thank you is less a "Thanks for keeping me safe and protecting my rights" it's more of a "Thanks for protecting my right to not give a darn."
Which is important, too. Maybe. No, not really.
The problem is not just on a national level, either. I hear people say all of the time about how the "good ole boy system" is allowed to prevail in small communities like yours and mine.
And those people are absolutely correct. There is a system of, not really nepotism (because they're not all related), but a system of something, that allows for the re-election of people unsuited to their duties, and, when we fail to do our duty as citizens, we allow that system to continue.
Do you understand that? We the people allow it to happen.
Our officials are only put in positions of power because we allow them to be. If we don't like it, we have to say something about it because together, we can make changes. In order for that cycle to be broken and for more forward thinkers to be elected into office, people have to take a stand.
I challenge you to make a statement in the next voting season by educating yourself on the candidates and making your voice heard at the polls.