Opinion: Participation is a responsibility


We recently met with a city council member up for re-election in May. His name and municipality of service are not germane to this discussion. What does matter, though, is the topic of voter participation, or, perhaps, voter apathy. He allows that the failure to exercise the right and responsibility to cast votes can be traced to the home. We’re in agreement. Back in the day, it was something of a rite of passage to gain a voter’s registration card. Back then, voting was way less about politics than it was about having your voice heard. We suspect, as did the visiting council member, that the issue isn’t even a blip on most families’ radar screens – and that’s a shame. Prior to each election, primary or general, we always include a reminder to get out and vote. Looking at voter-participation numbers, we’ve concluded the message was unimportant to many. We asked our visitor about immersion – in community; in issues; in, yes, politics. The councilor’s belief is the same as ours: Most among us would prefer to sit on the sidelines than play the game, as it were. Most all want a solution, but fewer seem to be willing to roll up their sleeves and become a part of it. Former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) adroitly sums this up in a recent op-ed, in which he writes, “You can’t study every issue, but you can pick one and dig in, whether it’s a big problem like climate change or a smaller one, such as how to get food delivered to shut-ins in your community.” The point is, voting, like getting involved in endeavors that move the community forward, has to be a conscious decision. Writes Hamilton, “Our Constitution’s preamble begins, ‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union’… . At heart, that’s what getting involved means …”. Are you willing to help make it better? We are and we believe we do. We hope you’ll join us.

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