An anecdote by Zach Foster (originally published in March on the Political Spectrum blog)
Today, March 8, 2011, is a day when many cities throughout the state of California hold municipal elections to elect their public officials and to pass ballot measures and propositions that will affect their communities. My hometown had such an election and I was able to cast my vote for who I thought, based on research and an educated conclusion, were the best candidates for public office.
What I find slightly discouraging is the fact that many people have not and will not participate in today’s elections. Some may dismiss this as simply a municipal election that really doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, this is an unrealistic mindset for those of us who are aware of how our elected officials govern, and how our elected officials use (or misuse) public funds. Elections really do matter! It is also most of the same people dismissing the municipal elections who will also dismiss the next statewide general elections and eventually the next Presidential election.
Some statistics show that only have of America’s eligible voters actually go and vote. It only takes fifty percent plus one to win an election, and most elections are not won by landslides. Therefore, if half the eligible voters vote and barely more than half of them win the election, then roughly twenty-five percent of eligible voters are making the decisions that will control or impact the other seventy-five percent of eligible voters and the entire population. This is what people call “minority rule.” It is foolish how the privilege of voting is often taken for granted at home when many hundreds of thousands of American troops have died abroad to bring the right to vote freely and openly to oppressed countries. After considering these things, does voting still seem unimportant?
I was recently talking with a friend about political awareness and activism. Those who willfully keep themselves ignorant or uninvolved in events that affect people and could potentially affect them are sheep that are only asking to be sheered. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is a civic responsibility to take part in our democracy so that a select few cannot hijack it, or else the wolves will come over the ridge while the sheep are blissfully unaware.
When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.
–Pastor Martin Niemöller