It’s D-Day. November 4, 2014. Technically, I guess it’s more appropriate to call it E-day.
In about 12 hours or so, Mark and I will learn the direction of his work life going forward. He’ll either be heading to Washington, as a newly-elected Congressional representative, or he’ll be staying here in the Fort. It’s a big day for us, a significant day.
We’ve known from the beginning of this journey that this is a long shot. When you’re a blue candidate making a run at a seat held by a very red, well-funded incumbent in one of the reddest Congressional districts of one of the reddest states in the country, you can’t call it anything but a long shot.
But still, we’re hopeful. No election is decided until the polls close on Election Day. It ain’t over til it’s over.
And regardless of the outcome, we will be okay. No matter how our lives change, or don’t, by the end of this day, we will adapt. It’s what we always do, and have done for the last 32+ years together, regardless of the circumstances.
This edition of the blog isn’t really about us, though. What I really wanted to tell you is just this:
You need to vote. Everyone needs to vote. Don’t make excuses for why you aren’t going to vote. Just vote. Because it matters.
When I was pondering this topic last week, I was intending to write a scathing opinion piece on the new Voter ID law that was recently put in place here in Texas. I spent many hours on social media last week trying to convince the handful of Conservative friends I haven’t yet managed to piss off why this new law is unconstitutional.
But that’s a Texas problem that will have to be dealt with down the line. For now, it’s a reality and we have to live with it, through this election cycle, at least. I didn’t write that blog because I was overwhelmed with other matters. School assignments being chief among them, because, oh yeah! I’m still trying to wrap up grad school.
So you won’t get that message from me today. For today, it’s simply this:
Voting is your right as an American citizen. And not enough people do it. As a nation full of people with the Constitutionally assured right to vote, previously mentioned voter ID law notwithstanding, we well and truly suck at exercising that right. In the last Presidential election, approximately 65% of the voting public actually cast their ballots. So where were the other 35%?
Even fewer Americans vote in midterm election years. For some strange reason, there are people who believe that midterm elections don’t matter as much.
Well, I’m here to tell you, they do. Maybe even more than Presidential elections. Why? Because, you know that governing body called the U.S. House of Representatives? Those 435 individuals who represent me and you when determining the law of the land? Those 435 individuals who currently have a collective approval rating of about 13%?
All 435 of them are up for re-election every two years. So every two years, if you don’t like your representative and the job he or she is doing on your behalf, you can vote to fire him or her, and find someone new to represent you.
And these are just the races on the federal level. Don’t forget about state races, and city council races, and school board races. All of those elections matter too.
Incumbency is a dangerous thing, my friends. Our elected officials have a bad habit of getting into office and getting comfortable and staying put. They begin to care more about keeping their jobs than doing their jobs. And we, as a nation full of apathetic voters, or non-voters, as the case may be, allow them to stay in office, regardless of how well or how poorly they do the job we sent them to do.
Trust me, I know. I’m from Texas. We’re finally getting rid of our horrible governor this year, but only because he aspires to run for President (again). He’s been in office since 2000. If Democrat Wendy Davis wins the governor’s office today, we may finally begin to see the tide start turning in Texas. We might see improvements in education, a bump to the minimum wage, the expansion of Medicaid in our state, and an end to the suppression of women’s reproductive rights.
If the Republican candidate wins, it will be four more years of the same old Texas.
I don’t know what the situation is in your state, but I know this. Nothing ever changes if people don’t vote. Nothing.
So here’s the deal. I want you to go vote today.
I want you to turn off the news and stop listening to the media telling you this election doesn’t matter, or that the winners have already been determined. Because that’s just not true. I want you to ignore what the polls say, because polls can be manipulated to say whatever a particular party or interest wants them to say.
Go vote today. It’s your right. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I want you to stop saying your vote doesn’t matter. Because not only is that bullshit, it’s a really lousy excuse. Every vote matters, yours included.
It’s your voice. Use it.