A few weeks ago, I sat in on an adult forum at a local church where several dozen people gathered to discuss a timely topic: Civil Discourse in Politics Today. Participants shared their views on the current state of politics and the stream of negative ads and opinions that flood our airwaves, mailboxes, and social media. We shared ideas about what positive and productive civic discourse would look like. In our descriptions we repeatedly used words like respect, objectivity, and trust. There was a general sense of yearning that we move toward greater civility in future elections and our fervent hope that, in this regard, we have not reached a point of no return. There was a consensus that when Election Day arrives it will be met with relief. It is on this day when votes will be cast and we commence with the peaceful transition of power. We will feel good about exercising our civic responsibility and ready to take a break from what has been dismissed as, “politics as usual.”
After this long campaign season of promises, positioning, and partisanship, there are those who have made the decision not to vote. This disheartens me. They say that their vote does not matter. They say that the current state of politics has caused them to turn their back on the process. I would urge each one to consider this excerpt from Bill Moyers from his book Moyers on America: a Journalist and His Times. This former White House Press Secretary aptly describes why politics still matter:
America faces what scholar James Davidson Hunter describes as “the never ending work of democracy:” the tedious, hard, perplexing, messy, and seemingly endless task of working through what kind of people we are going to be and what kind of communities we will live in. Politics is the work of democracy and it encompasses practically everything that we can and must do together: how we educate our children, design our communities and neighborhoods, feed ourselves, and dispose of our waste, care for the sick, elderly and poor, relate to the natural world, entertain and enlighten ourselves, and defend ourselves. It also affects what values we seek to defend, what roles we are chosen for us by virtue of our identity, and what roles we create for ourselves.
Your vote matters.