So we had an election last week in Colorado. Voter turnout here in Delta County was 56%. I guess folks just didn't figure it was important- hell, just a measure to fund education, some local issues and school board elections.
Here's the thing... a whole bunch of folks who didn't bother to cast their ballots are the liberal-types, the ones who regularly express their disdain with the ultra-conservative forces here. Why did so many on our side just hand the election over to the other guys? If they were too busy, or didn't think it made a difference- they should be aware that one of the religious types who really believes in returning prayer to schools, and voices her support for a 'Christian Nation' won her seat, beating out a very qualified, educated guy with vast experience as an educator and administrator in both rural and urban environments. She won her seat by 63 votes. If 64 of our like-minded friends could have been bothered to inform themselves, and get their ballots in, it would have made a difference. But basically, they didn't give a shit. It wasn't even a matter of getting to the polling place- it was just a case of getting the ballot mailed in.
The right wing kicks our asses on this one- because too often our side is laser-beam focused on single issues, fickle and in this case, simply too self-absorbed to realize that their lack of involvement does affect others.
One friend told my husband he didn't bother to vote because he didn't have kids in school- so the outcome really wouldn't have any impact on him... REALLY?
Who in hell does he think is going to be serving in future government? Protecting his rights in court should the need arise? Developing new technology? Handling his investments? Doing his open heart surgery? Writing the books he reads? Creating the music he longs to hear? Filling his prescriptions? Giving his dog a rabies vaccine? Oh...that stuff. Does he not realize that without educating future generations, none of the elements he takes for granted can be a reality? Does he not realize that just because he is not genetically linked to a child in school, as an American, he still shares the responsibility to educate our next generations? They are all our children, and we'd better wake up, get off our asses and be responsible. It would be a benefit if the education we provide was based in facts and embraced science rather than religious dogma. It would be nice if we moved forward rather than backwards. But, the decisions are made by those who show up.
It starts with voting. It's pretty simple- every week there is a new story about Republican efforts across the country to suppress the vote- always in heavily minority and Democratic districts. Sometimes, listening to some of my like-minded friends, I don't think the Republicans have to bother- we'll suppress our own vote just by refusing to participate.
Here's the thing...call me simple, unsophisticated, and naive in my belief that showing up makes a difference,but right here, right now- there is proof. 63 votes in one election, 75 in another. I know that if more residents of one particularly progressive town around here would have gotten out to vote, the outcome would have been different.
It doesn't matter how minor the issues seem to be, or how 'inconvenient' studying up on your ballot initiatives may feel. The citizens who were threatened, beaten or killed a few generations ago just to cast their ballots probably wouldn't want to hear about it. All the people of color and women who have been denied the right to vote over the years deserve more respect. My grandmother was 32 years old before she got the right to vote; no one could convince her there was any such thing as an unimportant election. Sadly, I think in this case, the other side gets it, and we don't...and the outcome of that could be the most threatening element to our democracy ever.