Vote or Die!

by Mary Griggs

This morning I walked a mile from my home to my polling place. I figured that I would exercise my body’s muscles while I exercised my electoral ones. That pretty much sums up how I feel about elections—I might not necessarily like doing it but I know it is good for me.

And voting isn’t just good for me. It is good for all of us. These days, we are voting for our lives.

For example, the same group that pushed the personhood ballot measure in Mississippi has vowed to do the same in all the other states (see here). The same coalitions that pushed for constitutional amendments on marriage are toying with the idea of statutes to criminalize homosexuality (Uganda’s draconian anti-homosexuality bill was written with help from The Family, a conservative Christian fellowship based in Washington, DC that has proposed modified legislation to its constituents. See here, here and here).

Further, every single state legislature in the country introduced bills, propositions, and amendments that had been drafted by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) to disenfranchise voters, to restrict choice, privatize vital public services and dismantle health, safety and environmental regulations. (See here, here and here)

The Citizens United decision removed corporate and special interest spending limits from campaigns and has allowed more money to flow into politics than ever before. We have to resist temptation every time we walk by the candy aisle on our way to the cash register and we must also resist the false promises found in 30 second television commercials funded by shadowy organizations with innocuous names and hidden agendas.

As we push ourselves in our physical workouts for better overall health and fitness, so must we push ourselves to learn all we can about ballot measures and politicians to strengthen our democracy. There are groups like Project Vote Smart and local League of Women Voters who are determinably non-partisan in the collecting of data to help voters make up their minds. Equality organizations like the Forum For Equality PAC endorse candidates after an interview process and a vote from the membership. Their voter guides can help you find candidates who are more likely to support fairness and equality.

We, as a nation, have gotten obese from not thinking about what we put into our bodies. In the same way, our politicians become bloated from relying on easy money from corporate lobbyists. Our elected officials should be held accountable for the money that funds their campaigns. For a list of almost 2,000 politicians whose political integrity has been compromised by their association with ALEC, go to SourceWatch.

As much as the Koch brothers funded Supreme Court might wish to bestow full personhood on corporations, there is still something they can’t do.

They can’t vote.

You and I are the ones with that power. While religious extremists and right wing corporations may direct millions of dollars toward feeding our fears, we have the power to vote our values.

If you listen to Faux News, you might think that the only pro-family votes are anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, anti-health care and anti-tax. The rest of us know that progressives have families, morals and values, too. Our families promote diversity and challenge discrimination. Our morals show a commitment to ending violence and poverty and respect science over magical thinking. We value a social contract that includes fair taxation and paying forward for the next generation.

Voting, like exercise, can improve the quality of life for us and everyone else on the planet. It might mean we have to gird our loins (or hold our noses) but we are better off for having done so.

So get out there. Vote!

About Forum For Equality

The Forum For Equality is a statewide human rights organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and to the support of good government. We believe that the fastest and most efficient way to achieve these goals is to educate our communities and to constructively participate in the political process.
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