Getting Involved

It’s that time of year, in one of those years.  A lot of people are paying attention.  Some of the people who only vote in presidential election years are starting to stir.  New voters will be voting for the first time.  Some people who haven’t taken part in the process have been drawn into it by this year’s candidates.  But some people are still on the sidelines.

We need your help.  Don’t sit this one out.  The choices are clear, and the stakes are high.

Think about getting involved.  We’re all busy.  We all have things to worry about, things that are important, things that take up our time and energy.  There isn’t a lot of time left over.  It may not seem as if there isn’t any time left over at all.  But your time, your energy, and your commitment can make a big difference.

You can help out at headquarters.  You can make phone calls.  You can stuff envelopes, knock on doors, and put out lawn signs.  You can volunteer to drive people to the polls on Election Day.  But there are other things you can do too.

Get engaged.  Make an effort to understand the issues.  Go beyond the slogans and sound bites.  Talk to your neighbors, not just the ones you agree with, but the ones who have different opinions.  You might win some of them over.  You might learn something from them.  Read.  Watch the debates.  Don’t just watch the coverage on television channels that you usually agree with.  Read editorials and op ed essays and letters to the editor.  Write letters yourself.  Take a stand.  Be counted.

Check to make sure that your voter registration information is up to date.  (You can look it up on-line or contact the Registrar of Voters.)  Plan ahead.  Make sure you know where your polling place is.  If your kids will be away at school in November remind them to apply for absentee ballots before they go.  If you’re going to be away at school remind your parents to vote.

We hear a lot, and talk a lot, about our rights.  It’s important to remember that we have responsibilities too.  Voting is one of our rights.  Voting in a thoughtful, informed way is one of our responsibilities.

Elections have consequences.  This is a real election.  It isn’t a “reality” television show. We’re not choosing our favorite new singer or celebrity spokesmodel.  We’re not voting someone off the island.  This election will affect all of us.  In a sense, it will affect people all over the world.  And the effects will be far-reaching and long-lasting.  We won’t get a do-over if we wake up on the day after the election and wish we’d voted.

I’m one of the people who believe government can make a difference, a positive difference, in people’s lives.  I know how I’m going to vote.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.