I urge everyone who hasn’t already voted to go to the polls on November 6. Only if we all vote, will we know what most Americans want. Remember the term “silent majority”? Well, the silent majority has let the voting minority take over this country. I cringe when I hear any politician say, “This is what Americans want.” Unless most Americans vote, politicians can’t speak for “Americans.” And who knows: if we all vote, we may find that we are not as divided as we think.
But you say, “My district is gerrymandered so that my vote doesn’t count.” I say, “Vote in every election and for every local and state office because it’s at the state level that districts are gerrymandered. Choose candidates who will district fairly or, more cynically, who will gerrymander in favor of you.”
You say, “The electoral college determined the 2016 election. Clinton won the majority, but Trump is president. Why bother to vote?” I say, “The electoral college applies only in presidential elections. Vote in 2018 for Congressional candidates who will work to eliminate the electoral college.”
You say, “I can’t vote.” Perhaps you committed a crime or your name has been removed from the rolls. I sympathize but ask that you not give up. Next time, volunteer to get out the vote for a candidate, especially a candidate for governor, who will see that whoever is in charge of elections will work to reinstate you.
But how do we know which candidate to vote for? Who will represent what we value and want? With fewer newspapers, more social media, and a deluge of 30-second TV ads, it’s hard to find a candidate’s positions. Attack ads like “My opponent will take away your Second Amendment rights” should make us ask for specifics. Will he eliminate the Second Amendment, take away my bump stock so I can’t kill a lot of people with my hunting rifle, make me wait for a background check before I can buy my gun, or force me to hunt with a bow and arrow? Maybe if politicians talked about the details, they’d find enough in common to write bipartisan legislation.
It used to be easier to vote by party. The Republicans, who used to be counted on to guard the nation’s treasure, are now running up the deficit. They’re pro-life but seem to have little interest in providing those lives with services or a healthy environment. Democrats are willing to support the newborns with SNAP, housing subsidies, and clean air, but then they want to send everyone to college for free. Voters who would ban abortion but fear climate change must decide which issue takes precedence.
To learn positions, voters must seek information about individual candidates. The League of Women Voters’ non-partisan voters’ guide, www.VOTE411.org, is available in New Jersey and some other states. Voters need only enter their address to see the responses to League questions of every candidate on their ballot (provided the candidate answered). Voters who don’t know who their candidates are can use their sample ballots to find their candidates’ names, Google them, and then visit their websites or read what’s been written about them.
“Too much effort,” you say? Nonsense! You’re looking for people who share what you value and want: a “you” but with power. What is more important than having a say about our wealth and health, the people around us and the planet we share?
“But,” you say, “the candidates I vote for rarely win.” Yes, but as in sports or the lottery, you cannot win if you don’t play. Keep trying. Vote!