I believe that as American citizens we have a responsibility to vote on election day. I understand that sometimes that is an onerous task: perhaps we don’t know enough about the candidates/issues we are to vote on, perhaps our lives are so crazy busy we hardly have time to eat and sleep, let alone find time to vote, or perhaps we are so discouraged with the political landscape we cannot see our way clear. Those are all good reasons to avoid going to the polls, but I would encourage you to put your big girl/big boy panties on and make an effort. Perhaps you know someone whom you trust and they can help you make sense of the issues/candidates, perhaps taking that time to go by and vote will help that last reason – the discouragement, by replacing it with a feeling that we have done what we could.
I think we have fallen into a mean spirited hole in our country. We have been letting others make decisions for us, and we suddenly find it is very hard to get a toe hold back for things we hold dear. Some, who may be more vocal than we are, have the upper edge now. Some, who won because of fear mongering or bullying, become emboldened by their win and seem impervious to our wants and needs.
Here is what I keep saying though. If we act as if there is nothing we can do, and we do nothing, then that is what will happen. Nothing. If we act as if our voice counts, and we do what we can, then things begin to happen. We might find that we have influenced someone and had a real conversation that made our lives better for both of us. We might find that we feel called to work toward a goal that had always seemed out of reach and now is within our fingertips.
The thing about the NRA and the arguments they put forth, which are then spouted by others who may not have thought those arguments through, they are just their view. Their view is colored by the fact that their business is selling guns and gun equipment and all things guns. To them, the more guns the better. They gain their power not by running for office, but by spending money to support politicians who then feel a responsibility to vote the way the NRA wants. The politician says it is because he holds those views, and he spouts the NRA argument, but he cannot ever forget that big paycheck that came from the NRA to help him win that seat in his state’s legislature, or in Washington. This problem even goes lower than that, this is an issue in our very cities and towns. Local governing bodies face all the same issues as state houses and Washington. And when we elect people at that local governing level, and they go to state and then to Washington, we are part of the problem.
When we have a chance to vote, we need to always, always, ask if that person is going to make it easier for someone to carry a weapon designed for war, with large clips that can spew death in seconds. I know good people who have guns. They are everywhere. But the gun lobby is unconcerned if our lives are disrupted, as long as they are making money. Our concern should be for common sense rules on what types of guns and clips are being sold, and the requirements to buy and carry those weapons. *
We find many people coming out now to express an interest in running for political office. People who never dreamed that would be their passion. People who have decided to step up and put themselves in the race.
This is not a decision to be made lightly. What we see is that the party in power does not want to give up. They have swept through the elections and feel they have a RIGHT to win each and every time, and with the numbers they have it has been possible for them to mess with the districts so it is almost impossible for them to lose. They feel that is their RIGHT. When they are challenged, those deep pocket donors are more than willing to help out by creating ads that are slanderous and catchy; to lie about the opponent and make it seem they are not the person you would ever want in office. Take the time to meet that opponent. Listen to their ideas. Talk to people who know them.
If we take our responsibility as citizens to heart, we will all pay more attention to the people we elect to run our government. Local, state and federal. They are all important.
In 2018 we need to make a difference and show the NRA, that just like the tobacco lobby, they are not impervious to the will of the people. We can take back our theaters, our places of worship, our concerts. We can make our country safer again. Not by taking all the guns away. By making gun ownership a responsibility that takes time and effort to achieve. By not listening to the fear mongering of the Bannons and Trumps in this world.
I hope you got out and voted today, and I hope you voted your conscience. Your vote is a right and a responsibility. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.
* “demand of our elected officials that gun safety laws be enacted as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, including: an assault weapon ban, the elimination of the gun show and private-party loophole by requiring mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high capacity magazines, and requiring federally enforced safe firearm storage. There is a distinction here. These high capacity weapons are not tools for hunting game. These weapons were developed to inflict the greatest damage possible. There is no reason that such guns should be available to civilians.” This is a quote from a letter from Christian Church (Disciple of Christ) General Minister and President Teresa Hord Owens.