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​Why I’m Voting in the 2014 Midterm Election

Posted on October 14, 2014

Okay, I admit it. I’m a political junkie and have been since I was 12. (No, I don’t remember Lincoln’s first election but I was almost old enough to vote for JFK.) The point is, I’m hooked on politics like some people (my husband, father and brother come to mind) are hooked on football. I realize not everyone cares who’s running for state senator of Illinois or governor of Texas or congressman of whatever district. But the fact is, who gets elected to these offices (and others) is a lot more crucial to our lives than who wins the Super Bowl.

I have no intention of telling anyone else how they should vote. However, I thought I might address some common reasons some people seem so blasé, if not downright hostile, at the thought of participating in the mid-term elections. Here are some of the excuses I’ve heard over the years and my rebuttal to them:

“All politicians are crooks.”

It’s true that villains, liars and just plain jerks are found in all political parties. But so are people who really care about their country and want to help their fellow Americans. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were all accused of dishonesty and worse in their day. Were they dishonest? Or were they simply practicing the art of compromising in order to pass legislation that would help families, businesses and our country prosper? By the way, “compromising” is NOT a criminal act. It’s the only way a democracy that includes different economic, demographic and cultural groups can function.

“There’s no real difference between the parties so it doesn’t matter who gets in.”

In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson ran for president on the Democratic ticket against Republican Barry Goldwater. Goldwater lost. Johnson signed Medicare into law in July 1965. Goldwater never would have proposed or supported such legislation. But if you’re on Medicare, or know someone who is, you know how important this program is to American seniors. To be only slightly melodramatic about it – it’s very often the difference between living and dying. Big enough difference for you?

“My one vote won’t make any difference.”

This is simply not true. Time and again, election after election, races have been won by just a few votes. If the turnout is small, the difference between winning and losing can be in the single digits! Even big races can be very, very close. (On a personal note, this statement always makes me feel incredibly sad because it sounds like the speaker has a serious lack of self-esteem.)

“All the political ads only talk about one thing: how rotten the other guy is. No one says what they’re for.”

I have to admit, answering this one is tough because most political advertising these days is not only negative but downright nasty. Personally, I try not to watch it. Instead, I read about candidates from different sources, listen to their speeches and read their websites.

Of course, you have to do all of this with a certain level of care. For example, if I’m reading a news item about a candidate I usually check on the possible bias of the author or the paper running the piece. (It’s amazing how the same political meeting can be reported totally differently by two different sources!) I also examine the wording of the candidate’s statements. For instance, saying you support raising the minimum wage IF certain criteria are met, is not the same as saying you support raising the minimum wage. (The wiggle room factor in the first statement pretty much negates the claim of support.)

“I’m not voting because I haven’t had the time to find out about the candidates.”

As you can see from the paragraph above, keeping up with who is for what does take some effort. You may have to spend an hour or so finding out which candidate supports the things that matter to you. But isn’t getting a government you can proud of and that supports your best interests worth a little time and trouble?

If you have children, don’t you want laws passed that will assure they have good teachers, well-maintained schools and safe parks to play in? If you’re retired or close to retirement don’t you want to know that Social Security, Medicare and other programs that assist seniors will be available to you? If you’re a student, wouldn’t it help you to have access to education at a lower cost? What about clean streets that are plowed when it snows and kept in good repair year round? Bridges that won’t collapse as you drive over them? Protection against epidemics like Ebola? Assistance in case of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy? A well-armed, well-trained military to protect us against hostile enemies?

Please note that none of the projects above can be accomplished by private companies or individuals. All of them are the provenance of local, state and/or federal government. Don’t you want to decide who makes up these organizations? Or are you willing to be governed by whoever someone else says should be in charge?

Bottom line, I vote because I LIKE BEING IN CONTROL OF MY OWN LIFE!

I don’t want other people to tell me what to think, how to feel, who to marry, where to work, live, worship or spend my time. How about you? That’s what I thought. See you at the polls on November 4.



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