Labor Day has come and gone, signaling the last hoorah for summer. Later this month we celebrate the start of fall, to be followed all-too-quickly by winter. As temperatures drop, we will no doubt bundle up in jackets and sweatshirts. Another fall tradition, one which we have the opportunity to exercise every other year, is the right to vote for national officeholders. In my opinion, the right to vote should be a responsibility. We enjoy freedom of choice in electing our political leaders, who are chosen to act on our behalf in matters of mutual concern. Sadly, the vast majority of those citizens who are eligible to vote abdicate that responsibility by not showing up at the voting booth.
This year all nine of our U.S. representatives are up for re-election, as are all 100 state representatives and 25 state senators. In addition, Indiana will be holding elections for secretary of state, treasurer of state and auditor of state. While every election is important, the fragile health of the economy plus worldwide instability surely make this election a standout among non-presidential election years. In Washington, D.C., the growing philosophical divide – crystallized by a split Congress, Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate – has resulted in gridlock. Congress appears to be unable to deal with the issues that the populace should view as urgent. The military and political fighting occurring in the Mideast and in Eastern Europe should scare us all into voting action; yet, I suspect that only a small minority of registered voters will show up to cast their votes on Nov. 4.
Issues such as immigration, Social Security and Medicare reform, tax reform, and trimming back the excessive regulatory burden that has been hampering businesses in all industries of all sizes within the past few years require that we elect people capable of dealing with them. Can our current Congress deal with these issues? Certainly it has the power to do so, but it has not yet dealt with these issues. Can we elect a Congress that will deal with them? We can, but electing capable candidates does not guarantee action. We must insist, through our advocacy, that Congress address these issues.
We must stay ever vigilant to make sure that our senators and representatives do what we want them to do on our behalf. We must stay ever present, so that we know what threats are arising throughout the world that could impact our way of life. Freedom is not free. We pay the price with the blood of our men and women serving in the armed forces. We pay the price with the sweat and tears of American business owners and workers, toiling for a stronger economy. We must also pay the price with our time. We have to invest the time to stay abreast of the issues and to make sure our elected representatives deal with those issues appropriately.
Let us collectively determine that these winding-down days of summer mark a rebirth of our great nation. Let’s make it a rebirth of “we the people,” eager to participate in our own governance, rather than abdicate that responsibility to those who are elected by a fraction of eligible voters. This fall, let’s get out the vote to make it an election of the people, by the people and for the people.
– S. Joe DeHaven