Get It While the Gettin’s Good
If you’ve ever followed the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems on twitter, which pokes tongue-in-cheek fun at how good first-world folks have it, you’ll understand what I’m about to say. In a country where we face such inconveniences as waiting a full five minutes for someone else to make our hamburger or having to drive all the way across town to buy the cell phone we want, it can be easy to see voting as an inconvenience: the long lines, the standing, the research it takes to know who’s who…
And yet, as the old saying goes, when you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken. The rights we have were not given freely; they were hard-won. Perhaps because many of us did not fight those battles personally, because time or distance separate us from those who did or do, we overlook the privilege and rights we have, thinking them irrevocable.
Well, think again. Democracy disappears when the people who are its foundation cease to invest. A government of the people need, by definition, people to maintain it and support it.
According to Al Jazeera America, only 42 percent of Americans voted in the 2014 midterm elections, the lowest level of voter turnout since 1978. 58% of Americans thought voting was unimportant, took their rights for granted, and let someone else make their decisions for them.
Power is a delicate thing. It is easily seized and hard to hold onto. Every time a person decides not to vote, he or she relinquishes power to someone else. Is that person trustworthy? Does that person have interests in maintaining democracy, or in seizing power for him or herself–because every time you don’t vote, that becomes a real possibility.
Democracy requires participation and investment. It’s not an inconvenience or a chore; it’s an honor and a privilege. Just ask anyone living under a totalitarian regime what would they give for the burden of having to choose amongst a pool of candidates who best represents their values?
Ask those who fight for our nation every day, or think back to the Civil War, when President Lincoln so famously honored those who had fought with the express purpose:
That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Do not let this cause be in vain. Do your simple part of getting out of your chair, and dragging yourself to the polls. We cease to be a democracy when we cease to participate in the decisions that shape our lives.