After we released our latest film, The Story of Change, I heard from some in the Story of Stuff community who questioned my endorsement of voting as “something we all just gotta do.” They felt that their one vote doesn’t make a difference or they were uninspired to vote for “the least bad” option within two increasingly similar parties.
Here’s the deal: Voting is important, really important. It is something we all just gotta do.
Sure, we’re all dismayed over the open hostility and paralysis of our current U.S. Congress, as well as some State and local government officials. Well, you know how those losers got in there? Because people voted for them! Often local elections are won or lost by a few hundred votes. Our votes matters.
If our votes didn’t matter, would there be such a massive effort underway to prevent voters from exercising this right? Across the U.S. proposals are being advanced that place obstacles in front of potential voters, especially affecting older, disabled or low-income voters. This must be stopped. As Whoopi Goldberg explains in this short video, “Every person who loses the right to vote takes us one more step away from being a nation of free people.”
The big-corporations and billionaires can outspend us, but they can only outvote us if we let them. Too many of us are giving away our power at the polls by simply not showing up. The U.S. has a lower average voter turnout than in most countries in Europe, Asia and Central and South America. That’s a bummer, considering that voting is one of the most fundamental basic indicators of a healthy democracy.
But we can fix this. Here’s what we have to do: Register to Vote! (Here’s voter registration forms in other languages for non-English speakers in the U.S.) Encourage friends, family and neighbors to register and vote. Put a Voter Registration Tool on your website or blog. Protect our right to vote. Then, vote!
If you live in the U.S., it’s time to get going now since many states require registration 15 to 30 days ahead of an election. And, if you live outside the U.S., we would love to hear your advice for reaching those high voter participation rates you guy keep getting. We’d have a very different governing experience here in the U.S. if over 90% of eligible voters voted, as they do in Australia.
We can’t expect strong candidates to run for office, and we can’t expect wining candidates to stay strong on issues we care about, until we build a powerful movement of voters to get them into office and then, once there, to keep them focused on building a better future for us all.
As Alice Walker says, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Voting is power. Let’s use our power on election day and every day.