By Jack Levine
This is an Election Year…have you noticed? Will you vote?
While I’m strictly non-partisan in my advocacy for family policies that improve the odds for health, protection and lifelong success, I’m an ardent promoter of participation in all aspects of the political process.
I truly believe that voting is not just a right, it’s a sacred responsibility. There are few more influential civic activities than voting. It takes a few minutes but has impact for years to come.
When I think of the many who struggled, suffered, fought and died for our right to vote, I’m motivated all the more to have my voice be heard.
My Grandma Minnie picketed for women’s suffrage as an immigrant teenage girl in New York. She voted for the first time after the 19th Amendment took effect in 1920 and never missed a vote in her life…all 91 years!!
Her daughter Ruth, my mother, took me by the hand to watch her and my father vote. My Dad was blind so he had to have a poll-watcher vote with him, but he always voted. They listened to the election results at the edge of their seats. Everyone in my family took civic responsibilities so seriously that it was impossible for me to grow up without that same set of values.
The pollsters are busy making their case for where voters are leaning. The pundits are sharpening their sound bites. The commercials, mail fliers and phone calls are flooding in.
But when all the words are said, charges leveled and millions of dollars spent, it’s we the voters who hold the power to decide who will lead our nation, our states, and communities into the future
Please share this power of voting message with your contacts and feel free to include it in newsletters, religious bulletins and workshop packets in the months ahead until the Tuesday November 4th General Election.
TOP TEN REASONS TO VOTE
- To honor those in our military who courageously fight for us and our law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency workers who respond to our needs and defend the peace at home. Those who sacrifice their personal well-being in the name of our safety and security deserve our respect.
- To honor people who struggled for civil rights, women’s suffrage and the ideals of justice for all whose diverse voices are essential for our nation’s moral health and community vitality. Freedom needs affirmation.
- To be a good example to our children and grandchildren by exercising the right to vote as a symbol of our faith in democracy. By voting we send a signal of the importance of the choices we as adults make to secure a better future for ourselves, for our children, and generations who will follow.
- Voting is our society’s great equalizer. No matter our station in life, income, ethnic heritage or social status, every citizen over age 18 has the same power of one vote.
- Pollsters do not determine who wins elections; voters do. Predicting the outcome of elections, especially close ones, is at best an inexact science. Pollsters and political pundits have their roles, but like each of us, they only have one vote.
- Elections should not be about negative ads, it should be about the options we have to promote positive policy actions. Voting for candidates in whom we believe, and for or against ballot initiatives we know will affect our future, is a perfect counterbalance to the flood of negativity polluting the airwaves and filling our mailboxes.
- While voting is now a bit less convenient than in previous years, access to registration information and early voting are still available for people who want their voices heard. Democracy is a team sport….and spectators simply don’t count.
- It’s vital to be an informed voter. Pay attention to news reports and editorials about the campaigns. While how we vote is confidential, the fact that we have voted, or failed to vote, is public record. Elected officials know which individuals and demographic groups are voting, and we who do vote are more likely to be influential in policy debates. Non-voters are voiceless and by not participating can become victims of their own neglect.
- Regret is preventable. November 5th is one day too late, and “could have, should have” are sorry alternatives to acting. Have a “no excuses” attitude by committing to vote, ask others to join us in voting, and promote a positive approach to making a difference among family, friends and colleagues.
- Be part of making history. Because every indicator points to the prospect that the 2014 election will have impact for years/decades to come, every vote is even more important. As a Floridian, I know how close elections can be! Being a participant in affecting history gives each of us a sense of pride in participation and the power to touch the future.
Jack Levine is a child and family advocate, founder and president of the 4Generations Institute and director of the GRANDPartners for GRANDParents Program for GRAND Media