The midterm elections are officially just a few days away, though in many jurisdictions voting has been going on for a couple of weeks already. The balance of power in the U.S. Senate is on the line, and along with the Senate races, there are hundreds of other federal, state and local races to be decided – races that could have a serious impact on your personal health, wealth and liberty. So what are you personally doing about it?
Have you cast your ballot yet? Have you donated to the campaigns of candidates you believe in? Have you written letters to the editor, posted comments on Facebook, posted links to important articles, or called in to radio shows? Have you attended or tuned in to candidate debates, volunteered for candidates, passed out literature in the park? Whether you have done any, all, or none of those things, here are four things you can do right now to make a difference in the outcomes of the Nov. 4 elections:
- Get your own house in order. Be sure that you have examined the ballot, investigated the candidates – all of them, from Senate to city council – and studied any initiatives, referenda, bond issues, etc., and decided how you're going to vote. Then you need to be sure that everyone of voting age in your household has all of that information and casts informed votes. You don't want to find out after the election that your spouse, son, or daughter canceled out your vote through ignorance or indifference. Make them notes to use when they vote. They can choose to ignore your suggestions, but be sure they have your suggestions and clearly understand the issues and what's at stake.
- Rally your friends, extended family, fraternity comrades, church family and others who know and respect you. We all know people who are so jaded, cynical, lazy, or busy that they refuse to vote at all – claiming that their one little vote doesn't matter, that the system is rigged, or that they think all politicians are corrupt and unworthy of their vote.We must combat this apathy face-to-face. It will never change without direct pressure from a friend like you. One argument to offer is with precinct-level statistics. People tend to look at election totals rather than looking at the numbers from the neighborhoods. In most cases, just a handful of extra votes in each precinct could have changed the outcome of an election. If you can motivate that handful in your neighborhood, while people like you all around the city and state motivate a few extra votes in their neighborhoods, the end result can be altered.
- Share your commitment with anyone who will listen. In this age of early voting and mail-in ballots, an easy intro into the topic is to casually ask people you deal with if they've voted yet. If they say yes, just say "Good for you; thank you for being a good American," and leave it at that. There's no point in saying more. If they say they have not voted yet, encourage them not to forget to do so, and either express your support for a particular candidate that you personally want to see pick up an extra vote, or say something to the effect that you are deeply concerned with the direction things have been going, that unemployment is still high, prices keep going up, and more and more of your hard-earned money seems to be making its way into the pockets of people who do nothing for it. Tell them you hope to see things start turning around with this election.A friendly, genial attitude, without bitterness or rancor, can win votes. Dramatic rhetoric – no matter how accurate – is often perceived as hyperbole and radical ranting. It is not a good way to influence the undecided. Neither is arguing with people with different opinions. Sociologists have demonstrated that most people dig their heels in deeper when confronted with a challenge to their strongly held beliefs, even if the argument is overwhelming proof that they are wrong. Impartial witnesses to an argument tend to side with the person who remains calm and conciliatory, not the one who gets in the best digs.
- Send out an email today to everyone in your address book reminding them to vote and providing them with your recommendations on how to vote. Include an article like this one, or something specifically supporting or opposing a particular candidate or ballot measure. If you want to get more specific, segregate your list by state and give state specific advice.
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The bottom line is for you to reach out to your sphere of influence, starting with the people closest to you and working your way out to total strangers, sharing your knowledge, offering encouragement – and "hope." Every vote matters. Influence those you can.
Media wishing to interview Jeff Knox, please contact [email protected].