For the past few months, as the country has slogged through the murky waters of mid-term election campaigning, I’ve struggled with a frequent need to “do something!” I guess the …
For the past few months, as the country has slogged through the murky waters of mid-term election campaigning, I’ve struggled with a frequent need to “do something!” I guess the hyperbolic rhetoric circulating around us has convinced me that this could be the most important election of my lifetime.
I’m swamped by emails and media messaging from candidates (and their vaguely identified backers) all painting a doomsday prediction for “our way of life” or for “our very democracy”. My mailbox overflows with attacks on opponents who, if elected, bode disaster. The actual contents of these eye-catching, melodramatic campaign mailings are mostly fatuous and obnoxious. Much of them are printed on non-recyclable paper bound for our already taxed landfills and, IMHO, a squandering of precious natural resources. They do little to inform or prepare us for casting our ballots and are a prime example of wasteful campaign spending.
Pollsters constantly tell us that every candidate is running neck and neck. And then we are pressed to send another five, or fifty or five hundred dollar donation “by midnight”, or else we will surely lose and that would trigger the forewarned devastating consequences.
No doubt, there is a lot at stake in this election. Increased funding from Congress for initiatives designed to address climate change are finally gaining some traction. We still have huge inequities in our education and healthcare sectors that require greater investment. Threats to our Social Security and Medicare benefits continue. Challenges facing working families are still crying for attention. And at the State level, there are efforts to undermine the electoral process itself. In this age of misinformation, it’s getting harder and harder to discern fact from fiction. So, who we vote for does matter!
Another serious concern are the candidates themselves. It’s shocking to see how far some have travelled down the campaign trail despite their questionable competency, insufficient knowledge of how government works, or major signs of insufficient moral and ethical integrity. Then there are those who publicly spew unacceptable expressions of disrespect and outright hatred for constituents who don’t look like them or don’t share their religious or political philosophies. In previous elections, they seldom survived the primaries.
Despite efforts in recent decades to become a more inclusive pluralistic society, comprised of people with varied origins and personal profiles, we now allow political leaders (and those aspiring) to renege on our nation’s commitment to tolerance and opportunity for all. To abandon these core tenets of our democracy is alarming. Past and recent history provide us with numerous examples of societies who’ve suffered when they’ve sacrificed their values —whether to salve fears, justify greed, or manipulate their citizens. Some assert election contributions from “big money” and “dark money” are to blame for the decline in America’s domestic and international standing. This reinforces the notion that this election may be the last chance we have to reset the bar for decency.
America has always had its share of extremists in government. Perhaps it serves the purpose of periodically testing our rationality and love of country. But things have felt different in recent years. Unbridled hate speech, spreading of conspiracy theories, lying, and violent threats toward political leaders and people peacefully demonstrating on issues or responding to significant events are now commonplace in our political discourse. They have even interfered with our ability to carry out necessary functions of governing.
Growing numbers of people report doubt in the veracity of scholarship and science, in our press and broadcast media, in the judicial system (including the U.S. Supreme Court), and the electoral process itself — all cornerstones of a democratic society.
Throughout these days of consternation I, along with many other Americans, have sought to bolster our hope for the future by becoming more politically engaged. In a few days, we’ll be watching to see if our actions have made a difference.
We’ll see if our efforts to increase voter turn-out worked? Or if the Letters to the Editor that turned up in news outlets around the region stirred deeper thinking? What about those many Fridays when our small group stood on the street corner holding signs, urging people driving by to think about the issues and vote? Did our messages resonate? We may never get clear answers to our questions. But we’ll know at least we did something.
Until Election Day, I’ll still make a few more calls to encourage new voters, informing them on how to get registered and when and where to vote. I may ask about their transportation and, if appropriate, childcare plans? (Just to get them thinking ahead.) I’ll also mention the State of MN website (see below) with helpful information for any of us.
It’s true that our votes will never be all that is needed to solve the big problems facing our nation, but I do know that our democracy thrives on more participation! Voting is the single most powerful contribution we can make to shape the future direction our government will take.
We’re now in the home stretch of this election cycle. Let’s prove Tuesday that our democracy is alive and well! Won’t it be grand to wake up on Wednesday, pleasantly surprised that brighter days are ahead! Remember to vote November 8th. Your country needs you!
For more information, visit mnvotes.gov.
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Thursday, November 3, 2022 Report this