There’s seven months left in this election cycle. Seven very long months of conventions, debates, and political ads. There’s never ending political reports and news outlets trying to get the biggest ratings, with very few sources of news that doesn’t have an agenda.
I know I’m kind of done with all of this and I still haven’t had my primary (which is in June here in California). It’s hard to listen to the bluster of the presidential candidates and not think that we’re just all screwed. That no matter what happens in November, things are still going to suck.
Heck, I’m even having a hard time writing this post because I’m tired of politics.
But here’s the thing: no matter how tired I get with politics, I’m still going to vote. Every election. Every time. Even in the off years. I even set it up so I’m permanent vote-by-mail so that I don’t forget (thank you California!). Sure, sometimes I won’t know who the local candidates are (and that’s usually when I vote by party), but I’ll still vote.
I’m mostly speaking to those of my generation and younger here (Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials). I know you’re tired and you think there’s nothing you can do, but trust me, if you all vote, the demographics will start to shift. The US has an abysmal voter turnout all the time, especially among younger people. Only 65% of folks who are eligible to vote actually register to vote, and of that only just over 50% of people who are registered actually vote. Think about this. According to the US Census, there are about 322 Million people in the US, about 80% of which are over 18 and eligible to vote. So, that’s about 258 million people that could register and cast a vote (theoretically). Only about 167 million actually register to vote, and only about 88 million who actually vote. That’s less than 30% of our population making decisions for 322 million people.
There’s a lot more to an election than just the president, house, senate, and governors. There’s local elections (mayor, state reps, etc), propositions, school boards, judges, sheriffs, city councils, and so on. These are the positions that impact your day to day life much more than the national elections. The unconstitutional and stupid bathroom panic bill in North Carolina is a bill that has immediate effect on the lives of transgender people particularly. That wasn’t a national body that passed that bill, it was a state legislature.
Thing is, by voting, you have the power to help fix it. You may not think that your vote counts, but it does. A lot of the more local politics are determined by smaller voter margins. There are many examples to Google about local races decided by 10 or less votes. And, if you have the will and drive to do so, run for office. If you don’t like what’s going on, and you feel you can do it, be part of the solution to help fix it.
I’m a pastor, so I’ll never tell you who to vote for, but I will tell you to get out there and vote. Get registered. If you need help figuring things out, send me an email and I’ll help you. Look it up online, since most states have online voter registration. If you’re in a state that has those stupid voter id laws, get your id and make sure it’s all squared away. Help your friends get theirs. Help folks get to the polls. Carpool. Bring snacks to those waiting in line. Bring snacks for the poll workers. If you can’t get there because of work, try and go during your lunch hour. In most states, employers are required to give you time off to vote. If you don’t think you can make it to the polls on election day or if you’re not going to be in your home state, find out how to do vote by mail or absentee voting.
I know you’re tired of it all and freaked out by the choices, but we still need your voice. Please register to vote and then vote, any way you can. Believe me, it’s really important.