Next Tuesday is Nov. 2 — Election Day. I know you’re busy. Everyone is, especially this time of year as the scramble is on to wrap up harvest and get ready for winter. But it’s time to take a few minutes and head to the polls. Voting is beyond your civic duty, it is in fact the foundation of America. Besides, after the barrage of advertisements we’ve all faced, it will be a relief to move on.
The really sad thing is, on the very best day voter turnout approaches only 60 percent. More often than not, presidential elections generate little more than 50 percent.
During a mid-term election, which of course is what we’re looking at this year, you can shave another 10 to 15 percentage points off from the presidential turnout. For the land of the free and the home of the brave, that’s pretty pathetic.
As Americans, we are blessed — yes, even during the tough economic times that we’ve faced recently and appear to be on the horizon for a while longer. Bottomline, Americans take a lot for granted, and our opportunity or right to vote has to be at or near the top of the list.
In a ranking of 38 countries, Australia leads with a 95 percent voter turnout. The United States comes in at 36, averaging 54 percent. Even Russia beat us with a 61 percent turnout.
Sitting in civics class years ago, I was intrigued by the idea of being able to cast a vote, especially in a national election. I’ve never understood the lack of interest in the voting process or the helplessness that people too often associated with it. Your candidate may not always win, but again your football team probably doesn’t either.
I’ll never forget my first presidential election as a brand new voter. I saw it as the first official verification that I was an adult; it allowed me to have a voice in society and reinforced that I was responsible for my decisions. I spent a good chunk of time waiting in a long line, only to find out shortly thereafter, that my choice was not that of the majority. A friend of mine chided me, “Well, you wasted your time.” Nope, I thought — and still do today every time I cast a ballot, whether it’s for president or dog catcher.
Having a voice in deciding who our lawmakers are is important to your family, your business and your future. I am of the conviction that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome either in the short run or the long term. Even if you do vote, I honestly think we’d all do better to complain less.
Let me be clear, politicians are not my favorite brand of people, but it takes a special bread and let’s face it most of us are not stepping up to the task. I’ve spent enough time volunteering on local committees and participating in community development to know that you can’t please most of the people any of the time. Now magnify that by hundreds, no make that millions of times.
So, unless you’re one of the growing number of people who have voted early, pencil in some time next Tuesday for yourself and your workers to cast a ballot. Really, what’s the investment? A few minutes or even an hour; some gas to reach the polling place? It’s a minute price — add it up in a week, a month, a year or a lifetime and it’s little more than a blink of an eye.
While it’s no one’s business to tell you how to vote, my only pitch is to be thoughtful, research the candidates and don’t be a one-issue voter. Really, what in life boils down to one issue? Nor is it a matter of being right or wrong; winning or losing. The truly important thing is that you get out and vote.