To Vote Or Not To Vote … That Is The Question

Today is the General Election in the City of Orlando and thefirst thing that I did when I got up was to go over to my polling place in Baldwin Park to cast my votes. I love and appreciate the right that we have been given to play a role in deciding who represents us as leaders in our cities and counties, the state of Florida, and of course the nation.

According to today’s Orlando Sentinel, voter turnout is expected to be low because there are no county, state or federal races on the ballot. I have been reading recently how voter turnout in general across the country continues to be low and I have to ask myself why this is the case. Do you remember during the past Presidential elections how it was reported that more Americans voted for the next American Idol than the next President of the United States? YIKES!

Have we become so disillusioned with the voting process and politics in general, that we have just tuned out? I hope that’s not the case. I have friends that have told me that their votes don’t matter and that the problems are so big that nothing can make it better, but I disagree. They say that nobody “good” runs for office anymore because politics have become so negative. While I agree that things have become very negative and some candidates talk more about their opponents’ weaknesses than sharing their own plans or solutions, I do see some very “good” people running for re-election or running for office for the first time. It’s just like everything else in life – we shouldn’t stereotype a group of people as being “this or that” just because a few or many of them behave a certain way. There are good people in politics who are there for the right reasons and who want to be effective leaders.

I think that it’s way too easy for us to disengage and say that we can’t make a difference. It’s too easy to say, “I don’t vote because things are such a mess and they will never change.” I also think that we have become a little lazy. We think that if we don’t vote that we are distancing ourselves from any responsibility. We also are too lazy to do a little homework and research to find accurate information about certain issues or certain people. Take the price of gas for example. I hear people complaining about how it’s the President’s fault that gas is so expensive and when I ask them if they truly understand what and who drives the price of gas, they finally admit that they really don’t understand it. I know that I wasn’t 100 percent clear either, so I had to do my own research. The same goes for healthcare and other critical issues. We should definitely know that facts about our own healthcare. Don’t you think?

Polls continue to show that Americans are angry. Are we just so angry that we are going to blame whomever we can blame at the moment? I do feel like we, as Americans, have become somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction society that reacts to the most recent headlines and scare tactics without digging deep and finding out the facts for ourselves. With all of the technology that we have at our fingertips today, it’s much easier to do our homework. We just have to take the time to do it. Take an interest. Engage.

At the minimum, take an interest in the things that directly affect our daily life. These things can change with where we are in our life and the lens that we look through on a daily basis. For example, now I look at issues that affect small businesses since I have been working for one since July of 2011. Of course, I have an interest in the economy in general, and job creation. I have three teen-aged children, so the state of education is important to me and I want solutions to the nationwide issue of bullying. I want inclusive leaders who value everyone’s rights and human dignity of all. Who work toward the passage of basic workplace protections for the entire community, equal healthcare coverage for all employees and their families, and allowing LGBT families as foster or adoptive parents to help the more than 110,000 children and youth in foster care who need a permanent family.

I was happy and excited to have the privilege of voting this morning and I am proudly wearing my “I Voted” sticker. I am happy where the City of Orlando stands today. Through my personal lens we are in very good standing for the things that affect my daily life. Are all things perfect? No. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But I feel like the current  leadership is representing my interests to the best of their abilities. I feel like they are effective leaders. I have made it a goal of mine to be educated and informed as possible and to be engaged in the entire political process. I am eager to continue this process with the Presidential and other elections later this year. Because I do we believe that one vote can make a difference. I believe that we, as Americans need to re-engage in the process and do our homework. It’s not that difficult. I refuse to believe that we are more interested in who will be the next American Idol than who will represent us as the next President of the United States.