As early as middle school social studies class, each of us has been taught the importance of voting. It is a right and a privilege that has been defended and earned by the bravery of our military men and women for centuries. Our very Democracy can only survive if each and every US citizen becomes informed about the issues and the candidates offering themselves for elected office.
I was shocked and dismayed by the attitudes of some in our community in a recent Daily Citizen column. These individuals stated that they probably would not be voting because they did not know the candidates. What a shame. In an earlier column, I stated my enjoyment for the movie the American President. And in that movie, President Andrew Sheppard says “America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's going to put up a fight.” America is advanced citizenry and we should all do all that is necessary to educate ourselves on the issues and the candidates.
I would argue that we are getting the kind of elected officials who are more concerned about raising money and working their political machines instead of governing because the American electorate is so uneducated about the issues facing our nation, our state, and our community. If we the citizens knew more about the issues and where the officials / candidates stood on the issues, we could hold them accountable.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the tremendous work of the Chamber’s media partners in helping all of us become informed on the issues and the candidates. Dalton’s Daily Citizen, WDNN TV, and the North Georgia Radio Group have all partnered with us in getting information out and on their own over the last few weeks. If someone had only read the series of profiles featured in the Daily Citizen, they could vote and make an informed choice.
The candidates have done their part by participating in numerous forums and attending countless community events seeking to meet people and to get their message out. Campaigning is hard work and those who really want to represent us spend many hours shaking hands and greeting people one on one. I attended an event today for a candidate for Governor and only five people were in attendance. To the candidate’s credit, he answered the questions and espoused his platform with the same energy and passion as if there were five hundred in attendance.
I have said many times that our local community is at a crossroads. We have three options of which direction to take. The fourth option is the one we can see in the rear-view mirror. We know what looking back will do for us. It isn’t realistic or productive except for historical base lining. Going forward can be to choose straight ahead, turn left or turn right. Each option contains elements of the unknown but they also represent going forward.
There are many races up for election this year. It will take some time to become informed. But in the end, the burden is on us to become informed and to elect those that will represent us to the best of their ability. I also believe that most candidates seek elected office to do good. They want to be successful. If we attend the forums, and read the coverage offered by the media, and call / email the candidates and express our concerns, we can make the most informed decision in choosing who we will vote for.
Early voting will continue through next week. Each of us still has time to do our homework. And most importantly, we have plenty of time to vote. If you were inclined not to vote this cycle or have not voted in a few election cycles, think about all those who have fought for our right to do so. Think about those who are serving in desolate foreign lands right now trying to secure for those countries the same right and privilege that many Americans choose not to exercise. And then reconsider your chance to make a difference.
For those that have already voted – Thank You!