It’s almost Nov. 6 — a time when voters around the nation will head to the polls, many of them in hopes that their votes can change the political climate in the state and the nation. Numerous people have already done their part by voting at One Stop locations.
With a heated presidential race underway, it’s no wonder that political discussions can be heard almost anywhere you go. Many people even dressed up in Halloween-themed costumes this year. I saw photos online of people dressed up as Sesame Street’s Big Bird holding signs that said, “Will work for seed.” Another popular costume was “binders full of women.”
In addition to the political jokes and arguments, I have heard a lot of discontent about this year’s presidential election. Many people are tired of hearing the political bickering. Some people have even told me they do not plan to vote at all, since they do not like Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
While I understand those frustrations, I try to remind people that this election is about so much more than just our nation’s flagship role. The ones pulling the most strings are the legislators in Washington, D.C., and Raleigh, and the local leaders who determine policies and procedures within Stokes. These local candidates deserve to be taken seriously in their quests for office.
A recent candidate forum in King was well attended, which was encouraging to see. But as soon as the candidates for partisan offices were through speaking, the majority of the room cleared out. The six Stokes County Board of Education candidates had a much smaller audience to address. While yes, there was a presidential debate scheduled for later that night, it seemed rather rude for so many people to leave without listening to the school board candidates.
All of these candidates are important. You may not have children in school in Stokes County, but perhaps you have grandkids or nieces or nephews still in school. Either way, your tax dollars help fund the school system, so you have a stake in it.
Although I expect voter turnout to be high this election, there will inevitably be people who fail to cast their vote. But there is little room for excuses these days when it comes to political involvement. You can get to know your candidates by reading about them from various print and online sources. You can vote early to avoid long lines, even if you forgot to register to vote beforehand.
I can hear several of the typical excuses in my mind now. “I’m just too busy” or “My vote doesn’t make a difference” or “I didn’t have time to get to know the candidates.”
Saying “I’m too busy” is essentially the same as saying “There are a lot of other things that matter more to me.” For a lot of people, things like watching their favorite sitcoms each night come above working to evoke change or supporting a good candidate.
I heartily agree with the sentiment that you can’t complain later if you didn’t vote or you didn’t do your research. Many people who are too preoccupied to vote or do research on their candidates have more than enough time later to complain about what the new official is doing wrong. Similarly, many people who complain about how the county spends their tax dollars never spoke during budget hearings and have yet to attend a county meeting.
As for the “my vote doesn’t make a difference” excuse, I think the last presidential election proved this to be incorrect. Suddenly I saw politically apathetic college campuses come alive with students ready to campaign for Barack Obama. When they all banded together, they helped make history by voting in the first black president. Whether you agree with President Obama’s position on the issues or not, you have to agree that the momentum that got him into that position in 2008 was very powerful.
Maybe Stokes County is not home to the presidential candidates, but there are many local candidates who are ready and willing to show you what they care about and how they want to change this community. Take time to research where they stand if you have not voted yet. Their future is in your hands.