The Responsibility of Voting

October 18, 2012 at 10:59 pm Leave a comment

It’s that time again… debates are in full swing, as the last undecided voters look to plant their flag in one camp or another. Candidates are canvassing their areas looking for votes, leaving no stone unturned. People that are friends most of the year are now trying to persuade others of their political superiority by having more yard signs or posting more on social media. It can put undue stress on relationships. I mean, after all, who’s right? (This is where everyone reading this article resounds “I am!”) Seriously though, how do we know? How many of us have blindly followed one political party, just because we always have? Is that a good policy? It happens in local, non-partisan elections too. I’ve seen elected officials at all levels do horrible things to the people they represent, and get re-elected over and over, because no one is really paying attention. Then they wonder, “Why do things cost so much?”, “Why do my taxes keep going up?”, or “Why isn’t my children’s school getting better?”. It’s because of our selective amnesia, once we get to the voting booth. We choose political parties like we do sports teams. Is that really serving our best interests? Will we ever see the change we really want to see?

Both parties have had their share of past actions that should be enough to make any of us shudder. Democrats Woodrow Wilson and FDR took their turns putting American Germans and (then respectively) Japanese into internment camps during the World Wars. Republican Herbert Hoover’s tariff policies single-handedly careened us into Great Depression. Democrat Andrew Jackson and his “manifest destiny” was responsible for the death and mistreatment of thousands of Native Americans, while Republican George W Bush sent us into Iraq on the premise that we were going after WMDs. The list of infringements is long… prohibition, Watergate, Fast and Furious, Operation Wide Receiver, the Patriot Act, indefinite detention of American citizens, TSA invasion of privacy, putting the Met Council above your community, crippling special assessments, and lying about wanting to get rid of a beloved airport. The biggest problem with all of this… too many people are willing to look past all of these things to see their party win or keep their current non-partisan politician in office.

This leads us to two conclusions: 1) Our values and morals have shifted. Former bad character traits like dishonesty, theft, and operating in secrecy don’t seem to bother us. 2) We just don’t want to take the time to stay informed. Although in some instances number one is true, I hate to believe this about my fellow man. I’d like to address the second of these two scenarios, which is complicated by news sources that won’t give us the real story.  Where do we look; how do we get the information? We have to look at voting records. We have to look at multiple points of view and source material when an accusation is being thrown about. That’s why we at Community Solutions MN try to reference other media, firsthand accounts, and official documents. You have to have all of the information.

My point? We need to make informed decisions. As I’ve been out dropping lit for candidates I support the past couple of weeks, I hear the question… “Democrat or Republican?”. Is that really what you are worried about? I would be asking where the candidate stands on taxes, personal property rights, education, the transportation, etc. That’s what I care about. I know a lot of Democrats AND Republicans (AND non-partisans) that are too willing to trample on our rights, raise taxes, and put special interests above their constituents. This has to stop, but only will be halted if we take time to measure a man (or woman) on his (or her) character. If all you care about is an elephant or a donkey, you are doing yourself and your neighbors a disservice. We’re only cheating ourselves, if we ignore a candidate’s character, and hurt our cause in the long run. If you naturally lean left, you can’t define Republicans, based on what the Democrat party says. You have to see what they say about themselves, and what they do without the bias of someone that leans left. The same thing goes for a Democrat from the Republican Party. You have to define your own principles and be honest about where each candidate lines up with them. In a perfect world, we would mostly be independents in our heads, reserving judgment until we know what a candidate stands for and what their record is, and defining if they will continue moving things towards our perfect vision from where we are now. Why give someone the power to make decisions over your life, when their values might not be in line with yours?

So while voting is important, and is an essential right, there is a greater responsibility involved than to merely show up at the polls. You must do your homework. Don’t show up at the polls uninformed.


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