***image1***Have you ever questioned or complained about the actions of a particular politician or political party? I know that I’ve heard people complain about tax hikes, loss of benefits and other measures taken by their respective elected officials. Generally, I have to ask, “Did you vote in the last election?” It’s difficult to take seriously complaints from people who don’t exercise one of the greatest privileges of Democracy – the right to vote.
There are many throughout the world who don’t have the luxury to influence their governments or have their voice heard. Many nations’ political infrastructures are suppressive by nature and their leadership does not allow participation by their citizens. Imagine for a moment, what it would be like to live in one of those nations that did not extend free speech, the right to vote or other inalienable rights to its citizens.
Instead, people live in fear of what their nation’s leaders may demand of them next. The meaning and importance of the right to vote is very different to people in this situation. One example is in Afghanistan, where more than 7.6 million people have registered to vote in this October’s first free presidential elections, out of an estimated 9.8 million eligible voters. That’s a 77 percent voter registration rate. I will wager that the voter turnout there will be huge.
We have had these rights now for 228 years. Maybe it’s because so many people can’t imagine not having these rights that they are taken for granted. It is unbelievable that so many choose not to exercise their right to vote! The argument I hear most often is “How can one vote make a difference?” It does! When you tally the thousands of people who have similar opinions to yours, you become a strong political influence. Collectively we have a greater voice, but it starts with the one or two individuals who have an idea. Would we be a nation today if it wasn’t for individuals like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin who inspired others to a new political alternative? That new idea became the United States of America.
You as an individual can make your voice heard. When you are joined with others, yours can indeed become a mighty voice. Traditionally, politicians have put forth extra effort toward campaigning for the support of military members and their families. They know that collectively we can influence state and national voting outcomes … especially in very close races! Everyone’s vote counts, and it is your right and obligation if you want to make a change or to keep things as they are.
I urge you to exercise your right to vote this Nov. 2 and make a difference!