Voting and Being an Informed Voter
Posted on September 7th, 2018 by Zane Cagle
Voting- Don’t Take it For Granted
We each one have a civic duty as part of our participation in democracy. You may think your vote does not matter or that you don’t really have time to get involved in “civic duties”. However, when a democracy ceases to have individuals who do their “civic duty” and participate, then we face the possibility of losing our democratic privileges.
We often think “civic duty” as something that is a hassle. Maybe you think of it as volunteering or paying taxes? As a trial lawyer, I hear individuals groan about jury service which is also “civic duty”. They “groan” because it is often inconvenient and time-consuming. Hopefully, you don’t get called for jury duty too often.
Let’s be honest, “civic duty” is not usually a sexy phrase. However, we often forget the fundamental principles that make civic duty and the right to vote so very critical! Don’t take basic rights and freedoms for granted. Use your voice so that the voices of fear, anger and the uninformed voices do not take up all of the space.
The Right to Vote
By 2018, most of us have always had the right to vote at the age of 18. Because so few people actually remember having to fight for the right to vote, we begin to take our voting rights for granted. Take a look at autocratic societies around our globe to see how important the voting actually is. This great nation was founded on the voice of the people but it is also founded on all individuals actually participating through informed voting. If you don’t exercise that right, then your voice will be overlooked. At no other time in our history have we had so many citizens uninvolved in our democracy. People have great excuses such as, “I’m just too busy”, “One vote won’t matter” or “I just don’t have the time or patience to listen to what is going on”.
Well, there are people paying attention to what is going on and if you don’t pay attention, your intentions and thoughts will be unheard.
While there is gerrymandering and quite a few other obstacles trying to make it harder for many individuals to vote, the way to overcome all of that nonsense is for everyone to show up and vote! The more people that vote, the more representative the decisions. When elections have high-turn out rate, the decisions are the “voice of the people”.
Democracy Depends on Informed Voters, Not Just Voters
In order for a democracy to work, not only does everyone have to participate in the vote, but they must also be informed! It does not matter whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian, your voice makes a difference.
Right now the big challenge is getting everyone out to vote. An even bigger challenge is for voters to actually be informed on the issues. Some will try to argue what being informed really means? Being informed is actually pretty simple–know the various perspectives or “sides” of each issue and weigh it for yourself. If you only watch one news station, you are not well informed. If you only watch CNN or MSNBC or FOX-any one of them solely, you may be uninformed. There are news stations that I feel taint the news strongly to one side and add to these deeply divisive times. Thus, watch and read several new sources continuously. Seemingly, the most obvious answer is to read many sources–I know, I said “read”. In these times, we tend to only “watch news” but we all should avail ourselves of multiple news sources including print, radio and television.
Be a Smart Consumer of News in Quest to be Informed
While I may not personally care for a network (to not be named), I watch it for periods of time to gain perspective.
I have actually seen this in print, “Show up to vote and don’t watch any news until November” What is that???? I cannot imagined that Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington would ever say, “Hey, go be an uninformed voter!!!” Taking in the news of the day doesn’t have to consume your life. Be a careful conservator of your news. What kind of history does that news organization have? Are they reputable? Is it a one-person blog or an actual news source?
Notice in my ‘blog’, I’m not trying to share the news or even tell you “how” to vote. I am encouraging you to consume news from reputable sources!!! Do they report facts or different expert’s ‘”version of facts”? Version of facts? I hope you got that?
Pay attention to the “sources” of your news. Maybe one network leans more toward your political leanings, but you should consider multiple networks so you gain various perspectives. Those who insist that you only should get your news from one source, do not want you to think critically. And, I read news articles. Who reads? Thankfully, many people do read. You may not read a newspaper from cover to cover , but you do read articles on your phone while waiting in line, right? Read some actual news articles from reputable news sources such as Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune and similar such news sources. Despite what some officials say, these news sources have been around for about a century. Just because someone claims a news source is “fake news”, you should actually investigate that accusation. When leaders only advocate for ONE network, you have to ask yourself, why?
Again, does the news source promote conspiracy theories? Do you only get your news through social media? If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions, you really need to broaden your news sources.
Pay Attention and Participate!!
Get involved and be an informed voter that shows up on November 6th, 2018! In fact, this November mid-term is being called by many, including myself, as the election of our generation. Whether you like what is happening in Washington DC right now or not, let your voice be heard and VOTE! As a citizen of this great nation, you have not just the privilege but the obligation to vote.
When you fail to vote, motivated interest groups gain control and have an overblown voice. When more people vote, the decisions are more representative. When we all participate, we are all heard!
So, take in 15-20 minutes of news each day to stay informed and show up to vote. Participate in this most tumultuous time in history. When your children ask you what you did about our nation in 2018, don’t be forced to tell them that you failed to get involved and failed to exercise your basic right to vote as an American citizen.
The last day to register for the mid-term vote is October 10, 2018