Four Ways Today’s Vote Will Matter – Actually, Make That Five

Dave Johnson

Why bother voting today? Conventional wisdom and history say that a lot of people won’t bother – and that more of them will be Democrats than Republicans.

Again and again, polls show that the public prefers Democrats and the policies that Democrats favor, but the “likely voter” polls favor Republicans. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll explains:

Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked heading into Election Day, with 46 percent of likely voters preferring a Republican-controlled Congress, and 45 percent wanting a Democratic-controlled one, according to the final national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll before the election.

[. . .] Among the larger universe of all registered voters in this new NBC/WSJ poll, Democrats hold a four-point edge in congressional preference, 46 percent to 42 percent, which is unchanged from last month.

Summary: In this midterm election, Democrats are ahead by four points with the public-at-large, but Democrats are behind by one point among “likely voters.”

According to the Census Bureau, in 2010 there were approximately 234 million people in the U.S. who were old enough to vote.
Only 65.1 percent of those were even registered to vote.
Only 45.5 percent of the eligible public voted.
Only 37 percent of the voting-age population voted for a U.S. representative to Congress.

Why You Should Vote Anyway

While on the ballot today are local and state offices and all of the seats in the House of Representatives, this election is also about control of the U.S. Senate. You should vote regardless of what state you live in. But if you are in a state that is electing or re-electing a Senator your vote is absolutely crucial. All of the changes that Republicans will bring with them if they take control of the Senate will make a real and immediate difference in your life. Here are four reasons why:

1) Republicans will force changes in the new health care law and those changes will hurt you. They will try to get rid of the subsidies that keep the price of insurance low for most people. They might make changes that take away Medicaid expansion that gave millions health care for the first time. They might even restore the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage to people who need it.

2) Republicans will force all kinds of cuts in essential programs like food aid, home heating assistance, workplace safety inspections, environmental protections and many other government functions. They will use the threat to just shut down the government again if the president doesn’t agree. For Republicans, no government at all is a desirable end-game, so they will do this.

3) Republicans will block the president’s appointments – judges, cabinet officers, agency appointments. We know this because they did exactly that until Democrats modified the filibuster rules.

4) Republicans will force huge cuts in taxes for corporations. They are already saying that they will push a deal that excuses corporations from paying most of the tax they owe on $2 trillion in profits they stashed offshore, as the condition for approving some spending on infrastructure projects.

These are just a few examples of why you should show up and vote. Just a few. If enough of us vote, we can make a real difference.

A Bigger Reason as Well

But there is a bigger reason to vote, beyond the immediate effect this election will have on your own life. Here is where it gets sappy, but it’s real.

The U.S. was and is an experiment, a sea-change in the ongoing fight to have self-determination and rule by We the People instead of rule by whatever particular rich thugs have the reigns of power at a given time. Before the U.S. was founded, government has always largely about people grabbing power and using it for their own self-enrichment. They might offer one justification or another – “God said I should be in charge,” “I’m the King because my father was King and no one questions the King,” “Me and my cohorts are better qualified because of our education/lineage/whatever,” “I’m in charge and I’ll have your family killed if you try to do anything about it” – but it really just comes down to people using force and power and threats to keep themselves on top and keep the money flowing to them.

England justified our being a colony using an elaborate system of royalty, family aristocracy and dominant monopoly corporations to keep us down. So we rose up and tossed them out and finally said that here, “We the People” will make the decisions.

Well we’ve got a problem now, right here in River City. The U.S. has evolved into one more system where a few people on top are using all kinds of justifications to keep the system rigged. But we can still vote to do something about it – if only we actually do show up and vote. It can still work. But we can’t maintain a country that is of, by and for We the People if We the People can be persuaded not to vote. They, the wealthy few, win, and will continue to rig the system for their own benefit.

They Try To Stop You

The ones on top get this, and use all kinds of strategies to keep the system rigged and keep people from showing up and voting. They make it hard to vote. They make it inconvenient. They don’t provide child care. They don’t provide transportation. They limit the voting times. They make us think it won’t do any good, won’t make a difference. They confuse us and distract us. They make us hate the people who want to fix things. They make us fearful. They run so many nasty, ominous ads that lie and smear that we put our hands over our eyes and ears and want the election to just go away.

In some states they go even further. The put in place ridiculous “voter-ID” laws that let you use a gun owner’s card but not a student identification card to vote. They make it hard for “certain kinds of people” to get the necessary identification. They make it so there are long lines in “certain areas.” They got rid of voting on the days when churches that are predominately African-American have “souls to the polls” voting drives. The list of tactics goes on.

It works. A lot of very busy people have a hard getting to the polls on the one day they allow us to vote. It can be a real effort to show up and vote, and they count on that.

Please take the time to vote today.

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