September 18, 2002

 

Elections

written by
Lynn Trenning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

aired on WFAE, September 18, 2002

The post 9/11 punditry identified a renewed commitment to American ideals that hasnít translated into action, beyond a resurgent flag decal industry. This September, we had an opportunity to serve our country by voting in the primary for who will run for office in the upcoming November election. Keeping with recent trends, we the people demonstrated resounding indifference. When the Mecklenburg County primary was said and done, several precincts reported voter turn-out in the single digits.

Lately Iíve read so much about people looking for community, wishing for community, yearning for community. What better way is there to build community than to choose who represents us? The voting booth should be as friendly a place as the soda counter in a small town. But it isnít. Instead it is a desolate place with a few dedicated volunteers and a trickle of voters.

Iím distressingly aware that voter participation is an unpopular subject, and that people would rather not discuss it. But with freedom comes responsibility. Iím incredulous that people equate posting a magnetic sticker of a flag on their car with patriotism. Waving a flag without exercising your right to vote is like making the team and not showing up for practice. Nationally, we have one war being fought, and another on the horizon. Locally, the financing for schools, transportation and increased security are dependent upon the will of our politicians. These subjects are not abstractions. These subjects determine the quality of our every day life. And how these subjects are framed and funded is determined by office holders chosen by regular citizens...you and me.

Elected officials determine what your taxes pay for, and what you receive in return. That is the essence of what our government does, both on a local and federal level. When you donít vote, you not only lose your own voice, but you place the burden of these choices fully on those who do vote. If you donít have a stake in who represents you, you lose your first and foremost power to affect change.

Political apathy has deep roots, and I wonít recite the litany of reasons for not voting. In the current voting environment, small blocks of determined, organized voters are able, quite consistently, to determine election outcomes. And when they do, their candidates speak for the majority, even though the majority didnít choose them.

Elections are what differentiate us from Afghanistan. They are a staple of democracy, and democracy is the idea for which our soldiers are sacrificing their lives. Voting is an easy way to show we care what happens in the place where we live. If you think financial donations control who gets elected, vote for someone who opposes soft money. If the public schools arenít good enough for your kids, vote for someone who will make them better. If you are tired of sitting in traffic every day on your way to work, vote for someone with a solution. Throw the bums out of office, or send them back to work. Just vote.

~ Lynn Trenning

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