Election Day is nearly upon us and I am excited. Not just because we will finally have a break from the nonstop spin, rhetoric, and vitriol that has accompanied this lengthy election season, although that is something to look forward to. No, I’m excited because I get to vote, and I love voting.
I have distinct memories of going with my mother to vote when I was young. Walking into those red, white and blue striped booths and watching my mom cast her ballot always felt like a major occasion to me. What an incredible privilege we have as a nation. I’m always humbled that anyone would want to know what I think. That my vote is exactly as important as that of a millionaire, or a president - it’s really quite remarkable. Take a minute to consider the incredible privilege that we have. We get to weigh in, to help determine the priorities of our nation and our local communities. I know we often take it for granted, but in the scope of history, it truly is a unique honor.
I know some will disagree and say that my one vote doesn’t really make a difference. That even if it does count, the Electoral College will still decide this election. Such arguments miss an important point.
First of all, voting is your civic duty. You want to be part of a society with paved roads, an educated population, a safety net that keeps children from starving, mail, phone service in rural communities, hospitals, and much more? If you benefit from those services (and we all do), it’s your job to vote. As we consider the devastation that hurricane Sandy imparted, it is all the more apparent. Good leadership at all levels is essential in moments of crisis such as these.
Secondly, arguments about the futility of voting dismiss the importance of local politics. What impacts your life most? The presidential elections or your local school board’s elections? Your state representative or the vice president? I’m willing to bet that your local officials have more to do with the quality of your daily life than anyone on the top of the ticket. And in local elections, a handful of individual votes really can change the shape of your community.
Novelist David Foster Wallace made the issue plain when he said, "In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote."
Can you live with other people setting your community’s agenda for you?
Please don’t think your vote doesn’t matter. Be informed about your rights. Join me at the polls. Bring your neighbors and your friends. Our communities will be stronger if informed members join in speaking out.
The United Church of Christ has 5,194 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.