Why vote? Local government is where change starts

2 John BerkJohn Berk – News & Features Editor

We live in a frightening time. Hope and change are distant memories. Political gridlock has turned the masses away from the whole system. The age-old problem of choosing the lesser of two evils is arguably worse than ever. Why vote?

Let’s look at Knox County for a moment. We are in the 7th House congressional district, home to Bob Gibbs, a Republican running unopposed. So essentially, Bob Gibbs is going to Washington because no one ran against him.

When it comes to the issues, most of the measures on the ballot in Knox county won’t apply to you.

So, back to the main question: why vote at all? Does your vote actually matter?

No matter how the election goes, neither Democrats nor Republicans will be able to gain full control of the country.

Even if the Republicans take the Senate and grow their majority in the House (as most predictions seem to indicate), most of their legislation will be blocked by presidential veto.

The Democrats don’t have much hope of retaking the House, even if they do survive in the Senate. So either way it goes, there will be two more years of federal gridlock.

The question of “Why should I vote” looks to be unsolvable. One vote is not likely to make a difference, but think about all the people who don’t vote because they feel powerless.

If they all voted, it could change the outcome of an election. In 2010, the last mid-term election, about 38 percent of voting age citizens actually voted. This means 62 percent didn’t. Most of the country didn’t exercise the right to vote — one of the last rights we have that isn’t being dramatically infringed upon.

If we exercise that right, there is a chance that change can happen. Whether that is on the local or state level, programs have the potential to spread to other places. For example, Obamacare is based on Massachusetts healthcare reform laws. While state and local governments have had less and less power over the years, they still have some. That’s where democracy happens.

Love it or hate it, Obamacare is a step forward in the reform process. Reform is needed in healthcare, prisons, immigration, law enforcement and countless other areas.

Federal legislators are gridlocked. All we have left is state and local government, a place where your vote matters more. While there is no legislation addressing these issues in Ohio at this time, electing the right people to deal with these problems could be important down the line.

In short, you should vote because that’s all we have left. You can like a Facebook page and rail against people politically online and in classes, but if you don’t vote you haven’t done the one thing you can do that actually matters.

Your voice is just one among many, but it’s the only voice you’ve got.