Oh, here it is! Allow me to step up on to it and tell you what’s good.
Tomorrow, the great State of Oklahoma will hold primary elections for a whole host of offices including the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, United States Senators and State Representatives, not to mention county races in the judiciary and executive branches. Basically, lots of races end tomorrow and new ones begin and run until November. I don’t doubt that many of my peers will vote in November, after all, it is a so-called election year (although I have my doubts about as many people voting in this election as did in the 2008 Presidential election). But will they vote in the primaries tomorrow? And did they vote last year for the mayoral election? Or for the school bond issue?
I know I’m about to get up on my high horse, but I voted in the mayoral election and for the school bond and in the 2008 primaries. I can’t say that I’ve voted every time I’ve had the chance since I turned 18 (what can I say, I was in living a somewhat oblivious college lifestyle), but I certainly try. And here’s why you should too:
1) Democracy. I’m not one to get all patriotic and talk about how America is the greatest land in all the world, but I think that conceptually democracy is a pretty good deal and it is far better than some of the political constructs that still exist in other parts of the world. The backbone of a democracy is voting. I know you’ve heard people say that voting is our “civic duty” but I think it’s really our “civic opportunity.” It is our opportunity to be heard, do our part, make a difference, blah, blah. I mean, I’m a realist. I know that by the numbers my personal vote might not make an actual difference, but if everyone thought that than no one would ever vote. So I vote. Because that’s what I should do. Plus, I figure since I actually hit the polls, I can complain about all of the things our political leaders do that I dislike. No vote = No complaining.
2) Local. As much as I think that the presidential election is important, I think that the argument can be made that local elections are the most important for me personally. Yes, there are things the President and Congress do on the federal level that affect me, but the legislative and executive actions that truly affect my every day life are mandated by my governor, my state “representatives” (whether any of them actually represent me is definitely debatable), my mayor, and sadly enough, my cray-cray city council. These people are actually making the decisions that I see and live every day — on my city streets (Construction much?), in the schools I once attended, at city parks, in my wallet, and every where in between. Yes, major federal legislation regarding taxes and health care trickles down into my life, but sometimes I care more about decreasing numbers in city law enforcement due to lay offs and increases in my utility bills than about whether Congress decides to rename a post office.
3) Awareness. I will openly admit to you that I am not as politically savvy as I ought to be. I read The Frisky more than Huffington (or any other arguably reputable news source) and I’d rather watch Friends reruns than the nightly news. But when I know there’s an election of any kind coming up, I pay more attention. I scope out the candidates and the issues. I spend more time understanding the things going on outside of my personal bubble. And that’s definitely a good thing. I know I should spend more time working on my political awareness than just the time I put in before elections, but I figure some time is better than no time, right? Planning to vote in ALL elections requires me to spend some time brushing up on current events nationally and in my own backyard. Knowing to some small extent what the crap is going on in the world makes me a better citizen. Than you. Just kidding. Sort of.
I don’t have a perfect voting record and I am certainly not well-versed in all aspects of current events on the national or local level, but on election days, I get up a little earlier (or get home a little later), drive to my polling place, and I vote. And then I get a sticker. Who doesn’t want a sticker?
So tomorrow, get out there and get yourself a sticker. It will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And you can feel superior to all of your sticker-less co-workers. Dismounting soap box now…
Do you try to vote as much as possible? Do you think local elections are as important as national ones?