“I’m going to sit out the election because I don’t like that a candidate voted for or voiced support for the 1994 crime bill”
“I’m not going to vote for Hillary because Bernie isn’t the candidate” or “I would rather vote for Trump if Bernie isn’t the candidate”
There are many combinations of the above and each and every one misses the bigger picture. Whether you identify as a democrat, progressive, liberal, moderate, or someone who feels like the world has left them behind, the one thing you should not do is sit out this election or sit out any election. A President can’t change things by herself or himself. Congress can’t work effectively to change without compromise within its halls and a President working with them. And we need a fully functional non-partisan Supreme Court to ensure people’s rights are protected. It is the same for every state, every county, every city.
People feel like the system is not working for them. They are right that the system is very broken right now, but the diagnosis that campaign finance reform is the one and only solution, that if we can just get money out of politics everything will be fixed is wrong. It is important and we need to do it but there is something that could make a bigger difference, and would make a difference faster. People need to vote. Imagine what could have been accomplished over the past seven years if people had turned out and kept the House and Senate democratic. The party of No wouldn’t have been able to obstruct everything that President Obama tried to do. If people had worked the phones while the President and Congress had been working on the Affordable Care Act we could well have already had single payer health care. Had people turned out in 2010 the Congress wouldn’t have turned red and we wouldn’t have had sequestration. If people had turned up and turned out the Democrats would have had the opportunity to expand the Recovery Act and pass a real infrastructure bill.
None of these things happened. Instead people stayed home and the Republicans swept into power and the only thing that we got was sequestration and a lot of obstruction. That was not the result of “corporate democratic whores” or any of the more moderate language that is being used this year. To send a message you don’t sit out the election you get out and you vote. If the candidate for President is Bernie you vote for Bernie, if it is Hillary you vote for her. You vote for the liberal or progressive candidates up and down the ballot. IF they aren’t perfect and your only choice is a conservative vote for them anyway and work for a better candidate in the future. You do that for this election and you do it for every election. You get as excited for the mid-term elections as you do for the Presidential years. You do your research and know what a judge has done and you vote them in or out based on their records. You don’t listen to the negative campaign ads. You educate yourself and do everything you can to help your friends and family access the facts.
Ultimately, if we turn out, if we educate ourselves, if we understand the facts, the money won’t matter. Elect candidates, hold them accountably, participate in every election. Remain involved. Call your representatives, call your senators, tell them what you expect. Don’t stop. Stay involved. Act locally. Become a candidate. Don’t let money matter. We can and will overturn Citizen’s United but in the meantime we need to be involved. One Presidential candidate isn’t going to make a difference. We need everyone. We need to be involved so that gerrymandering, voter ID laws, disenfranchisement are stopped. So that local officials are accountable to us. State officials are accountable to us and the U.S. government is accountable to us.
That will make a difference. What will keep the country in gridlock? What will keep the country not working for us? Don’t vote. That lets the people who don’t care about our infrastructure, the people who think that health care is not letting people die in the middle of the streets, the people who value guns over books, who are willing to poison a city in an effort to save a few dollars run this country. You get what you ask for and if you aren’t voting you are asking for a government that doesn’t have to listen to you. Money can do a lot but it can’t buy your vote if you don’t let it. Ultimately, the voters are still the power.
Vote and we’ll all win.