Note From Norm: Vote Like Your Future Depends On It
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
Tomorrow is Election Day.
As of this weekend, some 31 million Americans had already voted.
By Tuesday that number will have grown substantially and at the end of the day on Election Day tens of millions of more Americas will cast their votes.
Unfortunately, mid-term elections are historically low turnout affairs.
In fact, in 2014 only 37% of eligible Americans turned out to vote.
This was down nearly 5 points from 2010.
In my younger days one of the things I loved most about Election Day was watching the returns come in.
As a candidate for public office the thing I loved most about Election Day was watching the returns come in when I knew I was far enough ahead that I was going to win!
It wasn’t nearly as much fun when the outcome had me getting fewer votes!
Throughout my life since I was given the right, and the privilege, to vote, I have found this simple act of participation in America’s democracy to be one of the most meaningful and profound.
As a young man protesting our nation’s war policies in Vietnam, I knew that my voice must be heard.
But, if real change was going to take place it had to happen at the ballot box.
As a candidate for public office who has been privileged and humbled to have received the votes of millions of my fellow citizens, the votes I received weren’t just pen markings in a ballot box.
They were the hopes and dreams of those who entrusted in me the duty to do all I could to help them achieve those aspirations.
The impact of a mid-term election is no less powerful than a Presidential year.
In many ways they are even more critical.
But, the point of this post isn’t to be a civics lesson about the value of voting in a mid-term election.
It is, to be sure, more about the value of voting at all.
We live in a day and age where our national institutions are suffering from a host of afflictions.
Americans are rightly concerned about the direction of their country and the world.
Despite a powerful economy, more jobs than people to fill them, and a world largely at peace, there is a gnawing sense within us that we are facing an uncertain future.
The murder of eleven Jewish Americans at their place of worship and madmen who make devices intended to harm and terrorize elected officials and prominent American leaders do nothing to suggest that there is an end to a spiraling cycle of cynicism and instability.
Even the fact that we live in a time of unprecedented abundance, and a world mostly free of conflict, does little to calm our nerves and anxiety.
Americans control the destiny of our nation’s future. We hold the power to choose what kind of America we want to have.
It’s in our hands. Literally.
It’s something millions of free men and women have fought and died for throughout time.
The freedom to determine their own destiny. To choose their own path forward. The right to make a difference in the world around them.
It is fashionable today in many quarters to suggest that perhaps America’s experiment with democracy has come to an end.
That it has become exhausted and no longer represents the best way forward for America.
Our enemies want us to believe this.
Russia. China. Iran. And a host of nations where a vote is nothing but a rubberstamp, or the right doesn’t exist at all, American Democracy is all that stands in the way between them and depriving the rest of the people on the planet of hope for a better future.
We can prove them wrong, and our Founding Fathers right, but doing something billions of other humans cannot do.
We can vote.
It’s a simple act of democracy that requires very little of each of us.
For most Americans its simply showing up at a polling booth.
On Election Day it may require standing in line. Or showing some form of identification.
Maybe even having to actually register the day of the election.
But, the biggest cost to any of us is our time.
Yet, in those minutes, or even those hours, the outcome of the future of your life for years will be cast by you – or by somebody else if you choose to not show up and have your vote counted.
You can make a statement by not voting.
You make a difference by casting a vote.
One gives you the satisfaction of having an opinion.
The other gives you power to impact the outcome of an election.
And by impacting the outcome of an election you make a difference in the future of your country.
Prove our enemies wrong.
Prove our Founding Fathers right.