Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are You Registered Yet?

I try to avoid discussions of politics whenever possible. Nothing seems to polarize people more. But civics is a different story.

We live here in the US in a representative Democracy. The idea is "of the people, by the people, for the people." And it works, perhaps not as perfectly as we might personally want it to, but it works. But an awful lot of people read that phrase a little too quickly and miss the "by" part. Part of "by" is going out and voting when an election comes around.

What you hear an awful lot of, whether for this upcoming election or elections in the past, is "but I have no one to vote for! I don't like any of the candidates!" Okay, that may indeed be true--I know I have felt that way many a time--but here is the thing: someone is going to get elected whether you like the choices or not. Sometimes it may be about getting the best of the worst. Sometimes it may also be making sure one particular candidate does not get elected, even if you aren't "in love" with his/her opponent. And it's also about sending a message to those who run and those who get elected. That message says we cared enough to vote, and if we don't like what we are seeing while you are in office, we can vote again and get rid of you. It says you got elected "by" the people and now you had better be working "for" the people.

National elections are coming up in November. If you are not yet registered to vote then please, please get registered. And when the time comes go out and vote. Do you have children who are old enough to vote? Make sure they get registered as well. Participatory government is a real privilege--ask those in countries where the citizenry does not have this privilege.

If you don't like the direction that things are going in, and you don't vote in elections, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Yup, it's the person staring back at you in the mirror who shares in the blame.

To find out how to register to vote in New York City, go to

For New York State, go to and follow the link for registration.

For New Jersey go to

For other states type the abbreviation for your state followed by dot gov. When the state site comes up type in "voter registration" in the search box and then follow the link.


Anonymous said...

That message says we cared enough to vote,

But aren't you also sending a message if you don't vote? When enough people don't vote in an election who could have voted doesn't that say that we didn't like or approve of anyone running and we're not going to be responsible for putting them in office? Give us someone that we can vote for and we will come back to voting?

Anonymous said...

I'll agree that voting is a privilege but I also feel that it is an obligation. If you don't exercise your rights there are plenty of people who might take that to mean that you don't care about having that right and who might try to curtail that right or do away with it.

As to what your voting or not voting might mean to those elected, there is really no way to determine that with any accuracy at all. Unless you ask people to write down their voting reasons when they vote then how do you know whether someone voted for someone because they wanted that person to win or voted for that person because they definetly didn't want the other person to win no matter what? The same goes with not voting. There is no way to accurately guess why people didn't vote unless they tell you, every one of them.

Pollsters guess as to why the outcomes are the way they are but it's just guessing, not real fact.

G said...

No, I am not.
No, I do not plan to be.


ProfK said...

to quote your words back at you from the link you gave, "Of course if I felt that one of the people running for office would turn on me or cause harm to others I would use the power of the ballot box to try and prevent their election. That's not the point."

One, you cannot use that power of the ballot box if you are not registered.
Two, define "harm to others." You state you have never registered/voted nor do you plan to be. The logical conclusion therefore is that no harm has been done to others before now, and no harm will be done in the future, that future that you will also not be voting in. What degree of harm to others will it take before you vote? What degree of harm to yourself?
Three, what constitutes turning on you?
Four, how would you know about this harm to others and possible harm to yourself unless you keep yourself informed about what is going on here in the US and in the world at large? Following politics is part of that information package.

New York State has in place Kosher designation and supervision laws. Are you aware that there have been attempts to do away with those laws? An informed electorate made certain that lawmakers knew that they were not in favor of the abolishment and that their displeasure, should the laws be rescinded, would be felt at the ballot box. We may not always win when we take on an issue, but we surely can't win if we if we do nothing.

"You have to be in it to win it" is not just words on paper.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem of not voting is greater among the younger people then the older people. And maybe it stems from the fact that these younger people have been given most of what they have without having to ask for it or work for it. Not voting is just another way for them to say "let the adults take care of it."

Anonymous said...

I think you're being a little too cynical Trudy. I don't think our schools and parents are doing a good enough job of really explaining in a practical way why registering and voting is so important for younger people. They all spout the regular lines about how it's a democracy and it's a privilege but no one ever illustrate's that with practical examples that might appeal to younger people.

A professor of mine in college gave all of us in his class a good reason for registering and voting the term we had him. He brought in information on one of the candidates who took the position that students shouldn't be getting loans for college at such low rates and who wanted to raise those rates if he got elected. He also wanted to raise penalties if you were late in repaying the loans and have it affect your credit rating. Suddenly that election was about us and we could see in a real way why we needed to vote.

Ahuva said...

The main problem I'm hearing is that people don't know what to base their decision on. How do they know that the information they're using is correct and (mostly) unbiased?

It's a lot easier to throw up your hands, say "They're all lying to me," and sit out the race.

I'd hoped that the Internet would help clarify things, but it seems to just be creating more confusion/information overload.

David Staum said...

One of the problems is that I suspect most of the people reading this blog live in places like NY or NJ, where, unfortunately, individual votes don't count as much in the Presidential election since a win for the Democratic candidate is almost certainly guaranteed.

I am an advocate of abolishing the electoral college and moving to the popular vote. Then the campaign would be nationwide. But that's not likely to happen given that it would take a constitutional amendment that needs to be retified by 2/3 of the states, and too many states have a vested interest in the electoral college system.

In the meantime, I live in a pretty big swing state, folks. I'm being pandered to by both Obama and McCain. However, I'm willing to vote for whoever promises to open up a kosher pizza shop in my town.