Please Do Your Duty

There are so many different ways to look at the election tomorrow. On the macro level, the results could shift the way the country conducts its business for the next two years. Should the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, key committees will change leaders and Nancy Pelosi would become the Speaker. In the less likely event they seize control of the Senate, which means they will control the legislative agenda.

Many view the election as a referendum on how the Bush Administration has conducted one issue: the war in Iraq. I say it’s much more than that.

It comes down to asking yourself if you are happy with your lifestyle, you level of economic and job security, your ability to buy groceries or pay for college. Do you feel your elected officials are acting on your behalf, are they voting on the issues as you would?

Stepping into the voting booth tomorrow, those are the matters that should be on your mind. After all, the theory is we’re electing people to represent us and act on our behalf. If you’re pro-War and your official is against it, then maybe he’s not the right guy regardless of party affiliation. No one should be stepping up to the poll voting the straight party ticket without considering what those votes will mean to you in the future.

Where I live, a 19-year congressman, Chris Shays, is up for re-election. He’s a great guy, I gather. He shows up at one local event after another and is plain-speaking. You like him. Yet, he’s been trumpeting his “maverick” stance as a Republican and touts his 14 visits to Iraq and shows off reams of letters he’s written to the President. Sounds good, right? But, then you ask, what got accomplished during those 14 visits and did the White House actually write back or did his letters sway any policy? He can’t say. After 19 years, he should be a Party elder, someone with key responsibilities and a member of the leadership. Turns out, he really isn’t. Chris Shays may sponsor and co-sponsor a lot of legislation but in the end, he’s a party spear-carrier. Not a leader.

After 19 years, I expect more and according to the polls, my fellow District 4 voters are expecting more, too.

We’re given this precious right and I despair at how few of us actually exercise it. Ask me, it should be a national holiday and compulsory so people are more a part of the process. I’m also dismayed on the micro level how few people pay attention to the local issues when they step into the booth.

Tomorrow, Fairfield will vote on changes to the town charter. Most seem blissfully unaware of what those changes are and what they might mean. It’s been in the papers and there have been numerous public forums discussing the changes but so few have turned out and it’ll be those few who decide how our town of 57,000 will be governed.

This all boils down to my asking that each and every one of you reading this make a point of getting to the polls tomorrow. By now we’ve all learned that yes, every vote does matter. Companies are pretty flexible these days if you have to come in late or leave early to do your duty. The polls are open 14 hours in most places so there’s really little excuse not to take a short trip and use one of the most valuable tools you have as an American citizen.

Thank you for voting.

4 comments

  • Bob A -- Syd The Vicious

    I’ve always felt that those who refuse to exercise their right to vote really have given up the right to complain about politics .I don’t mean to go off on a rant here, since I don’t often throw about my beliefs. But since I vote every year, and though “W” is not my president, I feel I’m supporting the process that elected him, which I believe, in theory, can work. Likewise, though I don’t support the flagrant misuse of power that put them there, I support our troops wherever in the world they may serve. However, I can’t help but feel that my little “voice” in the government process is like shouting at the rain. I still feel unheard, my outrage at the mockery organized politics has made of the affairs of this country goes largely unheeded. Yet I still vote. It’s more an act of faith these days….faith that by some stretch of the imagination, somebody might feel the same way I do. And if one more person does so and votes, than maybe more of us are out there.

    So I make this blanket plea to all of you voters out there. Drag some one else in there with you. Any hippocrite who bitches about how terrible this government is and says they don’t vote because it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point.
    Okay, maybe it is the point, but, if each of us do this, then maybe some self respect will return to the electoral process. Do you realize how much the dictatorships of the world must be laughing at America? We fought so long and hard against what they believe, so our citizenry can participate in their government, only then, once we have this freedom, to have a pitiful 20 percent voter turnout? 20 percent is disgraceful… 50 percent is disgraceful too, but hey, baby steps, right? If more of us normal, every-day working schlubs took the time to give a shit, maybe we could hold our government accountable for the right bloody mess we’re in. We cannot stand idly by and watch this from the sidelines any longer. The founding fathers gave us a great gift, and we’re pissing away our birthright for an MP3 file and an X-Box. It is not just our right, but our solemn duty to question our goverment officials, because if they aren’t held acountable…. well we’ve seen what can happen.
    Live free or die used to be our country’s motto… now it seems to be “Live Free, but Don’t Bother Me to Care”.

    But , what do I know? I could be wrong…

  • JosephW

    Bob, you (and your fellow citizens) shouldn’t be so hard on Shays. Okay, he’s been in Congress for 19 years. The real problem is that the GOP has only been in charge of the House since January of 1995 and his party’s “leadership” decided to toss out the long-held practice of seniority to decide committee chairmanships in favor of using ideology. Shays has, by all accounts, been too “liberal” for the majority of the current GOP leadership (which means that he’s a genuinely moderate voice in Washington). I live in Alabama, and have the unfortunate displeasure of seeing GOP candidates who are so far to the right, they often make Jesse Helms seem moderate. It’s utterly bizarre to hear and see GOP party ads attacking Alabama Democratic candidates as being “too liberal” for the state when there’s not a genuine liberal running for any office. What’s more appalling is the way that nearly every GOP candidate has the gall to tout their “Christian” principles while deriding their Democratic opponents as somehow being less Christian simply because they don’t feel the need to wear their religious beliefs on their sleeves. There have been more Dems this year touting their religious practices which is nearly enough to make me want to withhold voting for them. Frankly, I don’t give a pile of elephant dung about anyone’s religious practices, but I’m sick of these effin’ GOPers who want to mandate their right-wing religious-based bigotry on the rest of us and certainly do NOT want to see Court Justices who insist they’re “fair and impartial” but simultaneously denounce the idea of same-sex marriage (yeah, open-minded there about upholding “justice for all”) and complain about “liberal trial lawyers” (of course, if this state had halfway decent laws protecting consumer rights over the interests of big business, those “out-of-control lawsuits” would be much more “in control”). Really, this state’s Democratic candidates aren’t really much better than their GOP counterparts (if, overall, the state GOP rates a 1 out of 10, the state Democratic Party rates about a 3; from a conservative POV, the GOP might be a 9/10 with the Democrats being a 7/10), but I see much more in common with the Democrats–even here–than the GOP. While some might suggest I find a better political party with which to align, in this state any 3rd party truly IS “wasting your vote”. What’s even worse is that in some races there’s only token opposition–quite literally. The State’s 2nd Congressional District has been solidly Republican for the last 42 years, with only TWO men who’ve served–Bill Dickinson and Terry Everett–and since I’ve been voting, I can’t recall an election in which either man ever worried about their re-election.
    I don’t have much choice BUT voting a straight-party ticket since the GOP has made abundantly clear they don’t value diversity of opinion in this state.

  • Dave

    I’m curious, Bob. Since the Democrats will most likely take the House tomorrow, will you be in support of Alcee Hastings getting a committee leadership position?

    He has the seniority.

  • It’s not just about whether you’re happy with your lifestyle–it’s also about who you think is better equipped to improve that lifestyle.

    Or, taking it a step further, whether you think the federal government should be expected to or can ever improve that lifestyle.