Queens Chronicle – Thursday October 1, 2009
Want Change? Vote
Tuesday was special. On Tuesday democracy happened. On Tuesday there was a primary runoff election.
But as much as we talk about the greatness of democracy and our country, pundits predicted that less than 10 percent of the people reading this article would actually vote.I am writing to you today to ask you to prove these pundits wrong next time.I am asking you to vote and honor the thousands of people have died defending our country, ensuring that we have the right to vote.
Even in the 2008 elections — elections with historic voter turnout — one out of three Americans did not vote.In the 2009 Democratic primary on September 15, nearly nine out of 10 Democrats did not vote.Moreover, not even two-thirds of eligible New York citizens are registered to vote.Given that many city council districts lack Republican opposition, 7 percent of New Yorkers are deciding who is running much of New York City.
Then-Secretary of Education Terrel Bell’s 1983 observation about the state of education putting the nation at risk applies to our involvement in the democratic process today.If an unfriendly foreign power had prevented 90 percent of New Yorkers from voting, we would have viewed it as an act of war.Yet people choose to step out of the democratic process.Whether you are a first-time voter, or you missed the election on the 15th because you were busy: vote.If your city councilman is not listening to you: vote.If you like your representatives: vote.
Voting is our most basic means of keeping politicians honest.Having worked on several elections, I know there is one thing that politicians follow even more closely than polls: who voted.For example, why have politicians historically made more cuts to healthcare for the poor than healthcare for the elderly?Older people are more likely to vote than those living in poverty.If your community regularly goes to the polls, you will get the attention of politicians.
We can change the politics as usual that we see in City Hall, Albany and Washington, D.C.. The voices of the people can be heard above the propaganda of special interests.Whether the issue is achieving meaningful healthcare reform, providing quality education for our children or an energy policy that addresses global warming, in time, we can make these changes — but only if you step into the democratic process and vote.
Matt Bishop, Communications Director
Queens County Young Democrats