Why Vote?
Ralph Jones

We, as a nation, are in trouble! There seems to be no accountability on the part of our national leaders for any of the real life issues most of us live with day to day. Even locally, the concerns of everyday people seem to fall on deaf ears.

It seems to me, our elected officials have a pie-in-the-sky perspective concerning life on the streets, the un- and underemployed with little or no healthcare and increasingly failing (albeit more expensive) schools, high poverty rates, high crime rates, increasing popular despair and frustration. They justify this by claiming we have a healthy, vibrant economy and national security.

Unfortunately, they define economic health and vibrancy as high corporate profits. These are fueled by increased prices and offshoring at the expense of job creation, locally, statewide and nationally. Our national security is epitomized by the Pentagon’s proposed base off the shore of Nigeria to protect our national security by protecting US companies’ oil rights. Other than complain to each other, what can we do to change what appears to be the inevitability of a greater divide between the have and have-nots, with new social and world order policies and laws designed to create a caste system within the USA? These include discussions of Constitutional amendments and laws designed to discriminate against US citizens.

“To protect against domestic enemies”

The eternal optimist in me says we can do—we must do—plenty. We must take back our country and our Constitution. Our elected officials have sworn to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” Who is eroding the civil and Constitutional rights articulated in this cherished document? How have we allowed the government to impose Patriot Act I and perhaps II on us and systematically strip us of our freedoms?

Have we become our own worst enemies? During the 2000 presidential campaign, US citizens allowed private corporations to sponsor a presidential debate in NYC and prohibit some of the candidates from participating. Remember? The debate managers even threatened to jail one candidate (Ralph Nader) if he entered the venue. The corporation and the major political parties rationalized this to us all and some of us accepted it. Why? Let us stop the takeover of our country by whatever interest groups are influencing our national, state and local representatives.

Are we the problem or are we the solution?

We must mobilize the vote! We must register and educate the population! We must ensure that every adult who wants to, can vote. We must hold all of our elected officials accountable to “we the people.” It is our individual and collective responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make about the quality of our lives. We must make them believe that we will impose term limits. We must make them know we will fire them when the collective will of the people is ignored on behalf of their own agendas.

First, we must mobilize grassroots efforts to educate and register everybody. Second, we must mobilize grassroots efforts to “get out the vote.” Third, we must hold our elected officials accountable for their votes on issues like minimum wage, offshoring, abortion, cloning, discrimination, economic development that truly benefits the community not just a few, adequate housing that the elected officials would live in, and public schools to which they would send their children.

Our republic allows us to vote for people who will represent our will. How have we let them turn our republic into an either/or “democracy”? Either our will or their agenda will prevail. We have the power! Now we must generate the collective will to take back our government so we can all join together and work toward peace, joy and happiness for us all. I honestly believe our representatives have forgotten what that means. I wonder if they remember their own lofty ideals?

Ralph is a retired US Air Force Major and lifelong resident of Syracuse. He is also a single parent of four children.