Generally speaking, cities like Chicago, L.A. and New York swing their state in a particular political direction with little to no recourse. The election tomorrow should be no different. What should be different is your level of commitment. You should vote not only tomorrow but in every single election legally available to you. Party affiliation and candidate preference does not matter; what matters is that you vote—period.
Ever hear the expression “If you don’t vote, you lose your right to complain?” A more accurate statement would be “The less you vote, the less you matter.” Having interacted with more politicians than I care to remember, I can tell you firsthand that if you don’t vote, you largely don’t matter. This may sound wrong, but it doesn’t mean it is wrong. An elected official, you must remember, obtains and retains his or her position based upon your ability to vote and/or get others to vote. Money is important, but when push comes to shove, voting is what really matters.
In August, I published an article based on a few experiences I had with some Hillary and Obama haters, as well as an experience with Hillary’s senatorial staff. Subsequent to publication, I shared the piece with a Vietnam veteran, who said:
I think you did a good job of portraying the “hate everything about them” mentality that is nothing but destructive. Also, you emphasize repeatedly that every politician & elected official can cite some things that are positive and beneficial for all (or at least the vast majority), as well as for individual constituents.
Hmm, I don’t remember emphasizing, let alone repeatedly, every elected official’s assumed ability. Unfortunately, I know some elected officials or former elected officials, who have done little to nothing for their constituents and in some cases, told constituents outright that they don’t really matter. This is what I call failing to do your job, and some politicians are beyond guilty. But this is precisely why the general principle of voting matters.
Say you don’t like any of this year’s presidential candidates. Fine, but does that mean you shouldn’t vote? Absolutely not. A blank ballot at least shows a potential vote for a future candidate, and a potential vote is worth more than no vote at all. Presidential races tend to be our country’s biggest voting draws, but what is important is not the outcome so much as who’s paying attention. Politicians running for office work only as hard as they need to. Their campaigns generally look at things like how often you, and people like you, have voted, which is a matter of public record. They don’t know specifically whom you have voted for, but your past voting record is prologue for how likely you are to vote or not vote in the future. The more you vote, the more politicians, especially the good ones, cater to you and your unique set of demographics.
Thanks to Facebook, I came across a poignant remark from controversial author, pundit and LGBT activist Dan Savage, who said [profanity removed]: “…let’s talk about the Green Party for just a moment, or third parties, getting a third party movement off the ground here in this country…Here’s how you…do that: you run people not just for…president every four…years.” That’s half the coin. The other half is you don’t just vote for the president every four years. Donald Trump is an anomaly. In general, presidential candidates have held some other type of elected office before running for president. In other words, somebody had to have voted for Bernie, Reagan, Obama, Cruz, and Stein for mayor, governor, state senator, U.S. Senator, and town meeting seat before they ran for president. This is something both you, and the candidates you may or may not have voted for, should remember.
TV personality Mike Rowe said in August, “I’m afraid I can’t encourage millions of people whom I’ve never met to just run out and cast a ballot, simply because they have the right to vote.” Albeit for different reasons, I cannot either. I can only appeal to those who care.
Jeremy Warneke is a United States Army veteran, who honorably served in Iraq. In 2016, with the support of the Bronx Council on the Arts, the New York Public Library, Voices From War…and his family, he created “The Craft of War Writing,” which provides free, high-level reading and writing instruction for veterans, as well as the general public, based upon the themes of conflict and war.