Fall is in the air and with the change of seasons comes many changes in our lives. Some have kids going back to school or young adults off to college. Local schools are brimming with activity as concerts, plays, and sporting events are scheduled. Others have gardens to attend to, fields to harvest, or seasonal interests that need to be winterized and stored away until spring. The one thing that happens this time of year that affects all of us though is the upcoming elections.
Young or old, rich or poor, the election will have an impact on all of us because it will determine who sets the policies that shape our daily lives. Some of their decisions affect us directly, like tax or energy policy, and some are more indirect like environmental regulations. Collectively, these decisions made by our elected officials determine the environment in which we live and do business. You would think that every eligible voter would want to share their opinion about whom they want making those decisions on their behalf, yet almost half of us won’t cast a ballot this November.
Voting is often referred to as our “civic duty” and speaks to the idea that it’s our future, so we need to play a part in shaping it. Voting is our chance to do something to benefit our society through the democratic process, but it doesn’t stop there. What’s equally important is what we do to engage in the political process after the election.
Once our elected officials have been chosen, they need to hear our concerns. Elected officials run for office, not for fame and fortune but because of a strong desire to help mold the future. They can only do that effectively if they know what the people they represent want.
I would like to encourage everyone to embrace their duty to participate in the political process as an opportunity to be part of building the environment in which we live and work. Thomas Jefferson said, “We do not have a government by a majority of the people, we have a government by a majority of the people who participate.” Be a part of your own future by calling your senator, writing your city council member, or visiting your co-op’s board members. They’ll listen to your concern and value your feedback, and in the long run we will have elected officials doing the will of the people rather than what they think may be the will of the people.