Get the Habit


Election Day is just a few weeks away.  Are you ready?

Not the next Presidential election, that’s November 2020.  And the supremely important congressional midterms, when America will get our first chance to put the brakes on the Trumpocalypse, aren’t till 2018.

But here in California’s Sonoma County our next election is on March 7 2017, just 27 days off as I write these words, and I’ll bet that wherever you live in the USA, there’s a county or district or state election coming up soon where you can make your voice heard.

I’ve got my sample ballot (downloaded from the county registrar’s office to save paper and postage), complete with text of the measures I’ll be voting on, official arguments by supporters and opponents, and directions to my polling place.  My county representatives are seeking my approval on a measure to impose a business tax on suppliers and retailers of cannabis, newly legal in our great state, and on the same ballot I’ll be voting as a resident of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District on the question of renewing an expiring parcel tax to fund the continued operation of emergency services at our local hospital.

My position on these issues is irrelevant.  What’s important is that I won’t pass up the opportunity to have my voice heard on these two questions which will impact the lives of every voter and non-voter, every taxpayer, every neighbor, property owner, visitor, every man, woman and child who may need or use county or district services, including roads, housing, fire safety, police, environmental protection and health care.

America has endured years of gridlock and government dysfunction at federal, state and local levels largely because so few of us turn out to vote more than once every four years.  Not enough of us pay attention when the superstars aren’t on the ballot, and half or more don’t even bother when they are.

No opportunity to vote is too unimportant to bother with.  Marching and protesting matter and they sure can make you feel less isolated and powerless, but the only way to turn our anger and frustration into real change is to turn out and vote — in every election, at every level.

So even if you think the next measure put before you on a ballot is trivial, or a no-brainer that can’t lose, just take a moment to consider what you’d like to say to the 70,000 or so non-voters in three states who turned over executive power and control of the world’s largest military and nuclear arsenal to a demented ignoramus and his white supremacist, anti-Semitic fascist political guru.

If you can’t justify voting on off-years and local issues for any other reason, then think of it as practice for the big ones.  Check your registration and make sure it’s valid and up-to-date.  Get your ballot, figure out where you stand on each choice, know how and where to submit your vote, and then DO IT!  The more you practice, the easier it’ll be the next time.

Your country needs you to stand up and be counted.  Start today.

Make it a habit.