Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day

The phrase "Election Day" conjures a variety of images. Most likely, one would think of voting polls and ballots and, if that person is a student, a day off from school. Yet what does Election Day really mean? What does the results of voting mean for us?

Voting is such an arbitrary, mindless thing to so many people; for many it's just a task to get done. That is, of course, if they do vote at all. This year was only local elections so many did not even see the need to vote at all.

For as long as I have been aware of social and political issues (which has been since about sixth grade), I have longed to vote and have my say. For a long time, it seemed quite unfair that I couldn't vote when I was more informed than many of the people in my family. My longing to vote still makes me quite baffled at adults choosing not to vote.

Of course, that's not to say that I don't somewhat understand their reasons. Many (including, at times, me) are bored with politics or disgusted with the corruption that's going on. Still, voting is one of the easiest ways that we Americans can speak our minds and make a difference at the same time (electoral college for the presidency aside). Anyway, things might be corrupt and politics may care too much about being reelected to do something but... How is sitting around whining about how terrible things are going to help? Shouldn't we try to exert some control over what's going on?

Local politicians (and state too) are who make the real difference in people's lives, not federal ones. They are the ones who decide how much taxes citizens will pay and what decisions will be made concerning education and certain programs. Of course, some people erroneously think that that federal officials have total control over the economy but even that is mostly in the hands of the bankers on Wall Street.

Unfortunately, general knowledge about our local politicians is pretty limited as well as access to it. People only know the signs they see around town and that's pretty limited. That doesn't tell a person what that politician's views are and what they stand for. However, newspapers usually offer information about candidates as well as the Internet. A few minutes of one's time researching could really expand one's knowledge of the candidates as well as what they stand for (I would also like to take this time to advocate critical thinking skills. Reading what politicians write and hearing what they say while actually thinking are great ways of building those up).

Many people feel that those few minutes are a waste of their time. While most of those people don't bother with local elections, some people of those who feel that it's a waste of their time still vote anyway. Needless to say, voting blindly is worse than voting at all. Not only is it basically ineffective, but it may be unintentionally making things worse for everyone while giving democracy a bad name. Voting for someone just because they share one's party is only contributing to the divisive, uncompromising party attitudes and voting for someone just because they have a funny name or something is just... childish, to say the least.

Election Day is far more important than many Americans realize. It is more than a day off from school or something to take up time but it is a day that could possibly better things for America and provide the change people have been clamoring for.

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