Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Want You To Vote!

So we're fighting for democracy in Iraq are we? We have sacrificed over 3,200 of our brave soldiers' lives so that Iraqis can finally have the chance to vote for their political future and have an actual stake in how their country is run. It sounds like a great idea. Why don't we use it here?
In the presidential election years between 1960 to 2004, the average voter turnout in the U.S. for those eligible to vote was about 55.1%. That may seem like an optimistic figure being a slight majority but consider the fact that we are the founders of democracy and its most vocal advocate. And in the non-presidential election years in between when Americans are voting for their representatives and senators, the average voter turnout for those eligible to vote between the years 1962 to 2002 was about 40.2%. Now, I understand that we're not voting for that good looking, sharp talking maverick who will become the leader of the free world but these elections are just as important if not more than the presidential one. And this couldn't be emphasized more than the examples we're facing right now in Congress.
With the president facing increasing opposition by the American people as well as Congress in terms of the Iraq war, we are now witnessing the power Congress has on government policy. Part of Congress's powers are to confirm presidential nominations, ratify treaties, make up bills for government funding and budgets as well as oversee impeachment proceedings (hmm...I'd like to see that one play out). Congress is vital in its role within the checks and balance system that keeps this government democratic and not authoritarian. So the point here is that Americans should take more notice to every election and not just the popular ones with the multi-million dollar campaigns. Because when backed by the voters who empower them, our politicians can become more powerful than the president. And isn't that the way it should be; a government where representatives of the people are more powerful than any one elected official?
If we are really fighting for democracy in Iraq (and not oil) then shouldn't we lead by example? Voting is the most basic and fundamental part of a democracy and without it the people have no power. If our politicians saw that their actions were truly being judged by the American people and their jobs heavily depended on their representation of us then they would certainly pay more attention to us. In a democracy the people have the power but only if we use it. And if you don't use it, you'll lose it. And then who cares what you have to say because the Constitution that backed you up before will have been "amended" by the very people you didn't vote for to protect your rights. So vote; if not for yourself, do it for those who gave their lives for you to have that right if you so choose to use it. Any time soon would be nice.

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