1. Vote to set an example for your children. As a child, I remember my parents getting ready to vote. They took the editorial page from the Akron Beacon Journal and scribbled notes in the margins. They took their union recommendations. They carefully folded everything up and made the special trip to the polls. They waited in long lines to cast their ballots. Early voting or voting by mail did not exist. My father never graduated high school, and my mother was a Stay-at -Home Mom. Voting was a big deal, and I could see from their actions how serious and important it was. Come rain or sunshine, my parents voted in every election!
2. Vote if you are a public employee earning a living from collected tax dollars, providing a public service to anyone in your community. You, alone, can see the benefit of your services. If your job is cut, most likely the service you provide to children, the elderly, or the poor will be, too, and there are some services that cannot be provided by private industry where everyone benefits. We need public servants in a civilized society, paid for by local, state and federal tax dollars. Taxes are necessary, despite what you may hear on a regular basis from greedy, selfish candidates who have enough money to pay for their own servants.
3. Vote for the education of America’s children. Few elected offices are more important than the local school board. Too often, wealthy, local, conservative business owners end up running for office with little experience in public service or education. Support those who are in unions or education, over those who have a reason to gain financially by getting local name recognition. Remember, you will pay for education, or you will pay for prisons to house the young, uneducated children, left behind by underfunded schools. Not voting is an automatic vote for prisons.
4. Vote, so that local candidates, who will treat public tax dollars as their own money, are elected. Too often, I have heard city officials declare how they will choose to spend city money in their budgets. There is no such thing as “city money.” It is tax revenue for which you and I have given up, dearly, so that those of us who are less fortunate may be provided the same services as wealthy residents, such as public schools and libraries, or snow removal and paved roads. We all benefit when you vote for individuals who understand how education works and how public policy affects rich and poor alike.
5. Vote to protect America’s senior citizens. Some day you will be old, I guarantee it! Your faces will become wrinkled with age spots, your neck will sag, and your memories will grow short. If you do not vote for elected officials who will protect Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act, then those who have no medical coverage will die before their time. Your vote will have a direct impact on your family members in one way or another. They will have health coverage or they won’t. It is as simple as that.
Every time you vote, you have contributed a piece of your thought and being to the society in which you live. It costs you nothing, but you will gain immensely by spending an hour of your day requesting an absentee ballot or driving to your local polling place. Your vote is a pledge that says I am here for the greater good of society. Remember that democracy is a participation sport that cannot survive in name alone. If democracy dies, something else will take its place like plutocracy, oligarchy, or theocracy. Check the definitions. It’s your choice.
By Susan Ridgeway, Wooster Education Association