By Jack Levine – Founder, 4 Generations Institute
There are few more influential civic activities than voting. It takes a few minutes but has impact for years to come.
Now that both national political party conventions have adjourned, the presidential election is officially launched…and buckle up…it will be quite a ride.
In about 100 days the 2016 General Election will be history. While the presidential ballot is the top of the ticket…candidates at every level of office are vying for our attention and support.
On November 9th, we will either cheer successful campaigns we supported or feel sorrow for losses, but for sure, we will finally be relieved to not be forced to witness the seemingly endless deluge of commercials.
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 billions 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.
It is my earnest hope that despite all of the negativity, vitriol and divisiveness in today’s politics we can come to a place which brings us to pledge to participate as informed, active and dedicated voters.
Please do not fall into the trap of complacency. Let’s take every opportunity to accept the obligation to be full participants as citizens of this nation. Our vote is our voice.
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 8th General Election.
Feel free to tell me your story about your plans for this election season….Who will you vote for and why? I pledge to keep your message to me confidential and welcome your response.
Here are the two leading candidates’ official websites if you want to examine their positions on issues:
Hillary Clinton: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/
Donald Trump: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/
Follow this link for the Presidential debate schedule…there are three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate: 2016 Debate Schedule
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 may now be a bit more complicated 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 9th 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 2016 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.
IF YOU ARE A FLORIDA RESIDENT: To vote in Florida, your registration must be postmarked by 29 days before the August 30th primary (August 1st) and November 8th (October 9th) general election.
For information about voting in Florida, visit the Florida Department of State at Florida Division of Elections.
To get registered, contact your county’s Supervisor of Elections. A list of all 67 supervisors can be found at Florida Supervisors of Elections
JACK LEVINE – Founder, 4Generations Institute
After a 25-year tenure as president of Voices for Florida’s Children, a statewide advocacy network, Jack founded 4Generations Institute to promote intergenerational policies and programs that benefit the young, their parents, and more experienced family members…..also known as grandparents.
Jack’s expertise is in developing and delivering messages to the media, public officials, and a diverse network of health, education, human services, and social justice advocates on the value of preventive investments in children, parent leadership, grandparent activism, and dignified services for elders.
Through public speaking, seminar and workshop leadership, community conversations and opinion columns, Jack shares information, provides inspiration, and leverages advocate enthusiasm in the direction of public policy action.
Jack holds a Master’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University and an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Hunter College.
A graduate of Leadership Florida, Jack was the recipient of that organization’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was named Floridian of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel. Jack and his wife, Charlotte, live in Tallahassee, Florida and have two sons, Josh and Aaron, both graduates of the Florida State University and currently working as educators in Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon.
Jack Levine, Founder