October 21, 2022

Election Season

Election Season

The midterm elections are just over two weeks away, and things are looking grim. Not necessarily because of the candidates – I will keep my opinions on that to myself – but because so many Americans are so jaded about our democratic system and are simply opting out.

I read this week that only 14% of 18-29-year-olds said they are planning to vote in the November 8 elections. 14 percent! That’s downright shocking. Our youngest voters just aren’t seeing what’s at stake. Or perhaps they do see it but don’t think their votes will make a difference. What does it say about the future of our country? It seems most of us, young or old, fail to understand the importance of the mid-term elections. We simply have to do better.

Our system isn’t perfect, but it’s still the gold standard. And until someone comes up with something better, it’s all we’ve got.

Look at what’s happening around the world today. The Russian government is waging war on civilians in Ukraine and keeping its own people in the dark about the reality on the ground.

Look at Venezuela, where President Maduro’s government has caused the healthcare system to collapse and led to shortages of food, electricity and just about everything else.

Look at Nicaragua, where President Ortega has cracked down hard on clergy who have criticized his authoritarian regime, shutting down NGOs, schools, and churches.

And now the UK, where new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation after a mere six weeks on the job.

And that’s what makes reports about voter suppression here in the U.S. so downright scary. Full participation of the electorate, most especially including our future leaders, is absolutely essential. We cannot afford to take this for granted.

Consider Cuba. One freedom that many of us see as a given is the right to run a business. Although that might seem pretty innocuous in a capitalist country, it was only in December 2021 that the government of Cuba legalized running small- and medium-sized private businesses. There are countries that simply don’t want their citizens involved in private enterprise. Imagine being a future Elon Musk born in a country where wanting to go after your dream makes you an enemy of the state.

I’m not sure what it will take to get more people to vote. I suspect the answer may require us to use technology to meet voters where they are. We haven’t been as successful as I once expected using the latest tech tools to improve upon the voting system. For a world in which we do schoolwork on Google Classroom and communicate on Discord or go to work on Zoom, going to a physical polling place and stepping into a voting booth may seem as quaint as making a call from a phone booth.

Perhaps an entrepreneur will finally come up with a way to completely digitize the voting system and keep it safe from hackers, and low voter turnout will become a moot point. In the meantime, I hope all of you will find a way to make it to the polls and exercise your right to have your voice heard. There’s a lot riding on it.