It is a shame that in long-standing democracies people take voting for granted. They make up many excuses not to participate in the political process. Some of them simply shirk civic responsibility, but others don’t think they are the people who should be making the decisions “What do I know?” they shrug. In America, they are let off with the trite line “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.” They are let off too easy. Not voting shouldn’t be treated the same way as leaving the dishes dirty in the sink. Voting is not an option, it’s a sacred right and a fundamental civic duty and should be regarded as such.
Perhaps now, after watching people of other nations die in the street for this ability to vote some value may be placed on the practice once more. Maybe now since more Americans have paid the price for the apathy of the past twenty years and are feeling the pain they may see the need to pay more attention to the choices that are being made on their behalf. It is difficult to be politically engaged, it takes a sacrifice of time and many live over-scheduled lives. The news is not what it once was and it is more difficult to find reliable information on which to make important decisions. But that is not enough to give up on the process. It is an even more compelling reason to get involved with the decision-making process.
C-SPAN and other public access venues offer information about important national issues to City Council meetings which allow people the opportunity to participate from home. Investing just a few hours a week to do the homework needed to make important decisions for one’s family is as vital to a family’s well being as good food and clean water. It may be the thing that protects the family’s right to have those vital things. It is not an option, it is a responsibility. It is a civic duty. It is a matter of national security. It is a matter of the preservation of our most basic Freedoms as Americans. Yeah, it’s really that important.
As Civil Citizens, it is even more important to be the person that people can trust for the best information possible. Not everyone can understand or has the time to breakdown the issues and then connect-the-dots with other pieces about what the impact of a decision will be. Truth be told, the more important the issue the less likely information will be found about it on retail news venues. That is why those who can do the homework and get good information out to the voter is so important right now. It is the only way to invoke the societal changes that so many crave. Information is power and voting is the manifestation of that power into our political system. Yes, our system is ill, but it is not dead. It can be redeemed, it can be revived. To do this it will need attention and care and it can’t be done by a few citizens alone. It needs to be done by the majority of citizens all doing their part.
Next time you hear someone shirk their civic duty of voting with a lame excuse do not let them off with a “If you don’t vote you can’t bitch.” pass. It is no longer good enough. Voting is not an option Civil Citizens. Voting is your civic duty. Don’t let your country down.