Get ready . . . Get educated about the issues . . . who stands with you and who does not . . . then vote on Tuesday. You don’t get to complain about what’s happening in your community or your country if you don’t vote. That doesn’t mean you don’t have something to complain about after you vote. Unfortunately, the corporate huge contributions can put the newly elected representative in office to look out for their interests. It means you need to vote on Tuesday and then figure out how to change the outcome of the next election on Wednesday.
Say, “My vote won’t make a difference,” is wrong. Here in Virginia where CHEJ’s headquarters are located the results in the last election of State Attorney General (2013) the difference between the winning and losing candidates was 165 votes – out of 2.2 million cast.
Voting is an important step in the process of democracy but it is not the only step. As I have often said, there are two sources of power in this country – money and people. Most of our organizations work on a shoe string budget so we don’t have money, but we do have the ability to reach and motivate a larger number of people.
“Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.”
On Wednesday, think about who you could run for office. Most people respond when I ask this question, “No one wants to run for office.” However, that same leader says “No one wants to let the local industry continue to poison the community through their chemical releases. Or I don’t want to go to another government hearing . . . just clean the mess up.” These two issues are connected. Working on one while ignoring the other doesn’t make sense.
If voting didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be so much money and energy to make it difficult for American citizens to vote. States across the country are passing measures that make it harder and harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. These measures include requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register, cutting back on early voting, eliminating Election Day registration, new restrictions on voter registration drives and additional barriers to voting for people with criminal convictions.
For example, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law several bills in 2014 that will rewrite voting rules in the state, eliminating a number of early voting and registration opportunities as well as tightening identification standards. Fifteen states in all are actively involved in voter suppression measures.
The attached outlines which states passed voter suppression measures since January 1, 2013 and where the right to vote remains under siege today.
Corporations think and plan long term. They activity work to get people elected to school boards, then city or town councils and then state legislative seats and so on. More often than not our efforts are solely on trying to turn around the elected representatives that the “other side” helped get elected. As a movement we too need to think and work long term to elect representatives that have our best interest in mind. Activists in our movement are positioned locally to begin the long term process of changing who represents America—where it needs changing.
So vote Tuesday and begin thinking about your first steps in creating a long term plan Wednesday.