Vote: Does it sound “old,” “tired,” and “cliche?” I know it does, but voting does truly matter and is something we must not take for granted.
According to the United States Elections Project, in the 2014 United States mid-term elections 143 million eligible voters did not vote. More bluntly: just over 36% of eligible voters actually voted, and almost 2/3rds of eligible voters stayed home and did not vote. The 2014 midterms had one of the most lack luster voter turnouts in nearly 70 years. We must show our children, our neighbors and the world that the 2018 mid-terms are different.
In the 2016 presidential elections, less then 60% of Americans voted. When the 2016 vote is broken out by age range we see a pattern that has existed for some time: just over 40% of those 18-29 voted; in the 45-59 age range, over 65% voted; and for those over 60, more then 70% voted. While it’s critical that we all vote, young people, a group that traditionally does not vote in large numbers, needs to be regular, consistent and active voters. On average, young people tend to be more inclusive, more demanding of the truth and less likely to accept outright lies, and quicker to demand change. We need to move quickly and demand change, for we are out of time.
Voting is our right and people throughout history have fought so hard for us to have this right. Yes, it may seem that if you live in California, New York, or New Jersey your vote counts significantly less then someone who lives in Wyoming or Idaho. And yet, in California, New Jersey and New York there are districts and counties where in the 2016 and 2017 elections, leaders were elected by only double digits. Ten people can make a difference, so can one person. Every vote counts.
In Australia, voting is compulsory – required by law. Consistently over 90% of eligible voters do vote. The fine for not voting in a federal election is $20 and there are various local and state fines as well. Perhaps it’s time for mandatory voting in the USA?
At ClimateMama we always remind our Climate Mamas and Papas that to vote without knowing where your candidate stands, or just because she has an R or a D in front of her name, isn’t good enough. You must do your homework. Just as we want our children to show us that they have completed their homework, we need to do the same. Talk to your children about your vote and why someone has earned it. We stand strongly by this advice.
We also want to remind all our Climate Mama’s and Papas, when you cast your federal votes in this 2018 mid-term election, do so with the intent to show our children our country and the world that we completely and utterly repudiated hate, anger and lies. By not standing up to outright lies, to hate, and for science, currently elected congressional and senatorial leaders are both directly and tacitly giving their approval to President Trump’s agenda and his lies. Among other things, this agenda includes more drilling and mining on public lands for oil, coal and gas; it includes less regulation to protect our children’s health and our water and our air; it fuels hatred by demonizing immigrants, and by making it difficult in many locations across the country to vote. This administration is one that we must stand up to and strongly say: We reject the agenda you are putting forward.
We have no more time. Our planet is showing us this in so many ways. And yet, we need to move forward, one step at a time and not be stuck, frozen, or paralyzed. We must keep going. We must vote, and we must demand that candidates we support show up the each day and follow through on their promises to us and to our children.