Guest Editorials are the opinion of the authors, and not necessarily the staff or advertisers of Sierra County Prospect.
People say to me, “Trish, I won’t vote. I won’t get involved in politics. I can’t stand politicians.”
I can’t blame them for feeling that way. I used to teach U.S. Government to high school students. The class was not called U.S. Politics. It was called “Gov,” and we studied U.S. democracy.
But, it’s politics that fills our news and conversations. And politics is mean and dirty, full of big egos and deceptive language. It can be truly ugly to watch. Why would anyone participate? Why vote?
So, I must caution you. Voting is not a political action. Voting is a democratic action.
Democracy is government by the people, directly or through representatives, with equality of rights, opportunity and treatment of people. That is what my Webster’s Dictionary says.
Politics, on the other hand, is defined with these words: methods, tactics, factional scheming, seeking gain.
No wonder I feel ashamed when I hear myself described as being “into politics.” Goodness, no. It is democracy that I love and support. And it is democracy that I want you to participate in, not politics.
The fewer the voters, the weaker the democracy becomes and the political methods we abhor gain strength. The people become ever more vulnerable to the will of politicians and powerful forces inside and outside our nation.
Democracy was designed to protect the people from powerful political forces, but it depends on people being engaged. How? By voting. Just vote. That’s enough.
But when voters become so disgusted with politics’ nasty methods that we stop voting, politics wins and democracy dies. The political forces get their way. No voters, no democracy.
People also tell me, “My vote won’t make a difference.” It won’t? Because it is just one among many?
Well, a single vote isn’t supposed to make the difference. Rather, the votes add up, each vote having equal weight, and all together, the people’s will can be seen. The evidence of the people’s will is in the many votes, the many voices. And it would be an accurate accounting of the people’s will if everyone voted.
In politics, the louder voice, the moneyed voice, the bullying voice, the manipulative voice have tremendous power. They overwhelm the civil voice that speaks un-schemingly. But in an actual democratic election, the votes all count, one each.
So I caution you again. Every time someone does not vote, the corrupting force of politics gains strength over democracy.
And I tell you, the crude politics would not continue if all citizens voted. Don’t give away the power of democracy because you don’t like politics.
I don’t like the irresponsible behavior of politicians. But I don’t like litter in my creeks either. So I pick it up when I see it and I support efforts to keep our streams healthy.
I don’t like the manipulative smear tactics of campaigning, but I don’t like child abuse either. I took an oath as a teacher to report suspected child abuse. Everyone should.
I don’t like the scheming, partisan filibustering, and lobbying, and I don’t like the absurd amounts of money influencing elections. It ruins us. Neither party wins because the people (the purpose) of the democracy lose.
I absolutely agree with those who don’t like politics. I like public education and preventative medicine. I like public parks, clean air, and renewable energy. I like a true justice system and practicing the religion of my choice. That is why I vote. That’s why you should vote.
The deadline to register is May 21 to be eligible to vote in the June 5, 2012, Presidential Primary Election. Voter Registration Forms are available at most U.S. Post Offices and county libraries.