Vote and get others to vote too

There’s a saying that goes “Get involved in politics or get out of business.”

That doesn’t mean you need to run for office, though many of you reading this would be good, no-nonsense politicians.

What it means to “get involved in politics” is to learn about the issues. It means getting to know who your elected representatives are and what they stand for.

If you agree fundamentally with them, then support them any way you can. That support can include contacting them and donating time to their campaign, a sign in your yard and attending a fundraiser or getting online to donate.

Most of all, vote for them. If you don’t vote for your own interests, who will?

The Nov. 8 election may be the most important election in recent years.

You hear that every election, but this one is different. It is important because we have the opportunity to change the direction of the country for at least the next four years, and hopefully beyond.

The national press will be calling the election long before the polls in Alaska have closed. But just because the presidential election will have been decided before our polls close, don’t let that stop you from voting. Alaska has a lot at stake as we elect a U.S. senator, a congressman and 50 legislators.

For the past few months, candidates have been spending afternoons, evenings and weekends walking, going door to door, knocking and talking, being received warmly or getting a door slammed in their face.

When they’re not walking, they’re home stuffing mailers in envelopes, studying precinct maps, answering the countless surveys sent out by as many special interest groups.

They’re making phone calls when they can’t walk and they are having fundraisers to help support their campaign. They’re going to so many events and meetings; they start thinking about joining Meetings Anonymous.

The Aug. 16 Primary Election had one of the largest slates of candidates we’ve seen in years. In 11 of the races, there was no opponent in either the primary or general election. Just filing for office in May made them a winner.

After the August primary, six others are unopposed on Nov. 8. Seventeen of the races are already decided, but that leaves 33 races that will be decided on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Some of these are hotly contested and will be close.

The August primary also had an unimpressive voter turnout. It’s not unusual to have less than a third of registered voters take the time to vote in an election.

History, especially recent history, is full of examples in which an election was decided by very few votes — even a coin toss in the case of a tie.

Voting is a right, a privilege and one of the most important freedoms we have. Unfortunately for many, it is more important to exercise the TV remote than the right to vote.

Why does it matter? In the 2012 Presidential election, there were 218 million eligible voters in the United States.

Only 124 million voted in the general election that year.

Fifty-one percent voted for Barak Obama. Doing the math, the direction of our country was decided by less than 30 percent of the eligible voters.

Look at a few key states where the electoral votes swung the election: a handful of additional voters in every precinct could turn the district which could turn the state, which could turn the election.

To paraphrase Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Get involved!

Get informed on the issues and the candidates. Talk to your family, your friends, your co-workers. And all of you vote on Nov. 8. The rest of us are depending on you.

John MacKinnon is the executive director of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska.

 

Updated: 
10/12/2016 - 12:30pm

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