By Ron Grant
There was a time in my life, not all that long ago, when I was completely disillusioned with the entire political/voting process. The year was 2004. I was a student at Oakland University in a city 30 minutes north of Detroit, MI. The Presidential election consisted of the choices of George W. Bush and John Kerry. I looked out at the election landscape and was thoroughly fed up with and disgusted by what I saw and heard.
In all honesty, I believe this year's version of the race for the White House, as well as more locally-focused elections in Georgia and around the country, have many of the people I know, love and consider family and friends feeling the same way that I felt back then. Furthermore, I'd be nothing more than a boldface liar, a fraud and a hypocrite if I said that I still didn't harbor at least some of those old feelings when seeing what I see during the current election cycle. However, even with all of the frustration and disillusionment, there is no question that I still believe that, individually and collectively, we must do all that we can to make our voices heard and take to task anyone and anything that seeks to prevent us from doing so. Right now.
The concerns must go far beyond the Presidential election though. The results from May 24th’s primaries here in Georgia don’t lie. From the U.S. House and Senate races to contests for state legislatures, from educational proposals to voting injustices in Fulton county (officials reported people were listed in the wrong district and reported concern for basic accommodations for disabled people), we have been shown, once again, the importance and consequences of both voting and not voting.
Allow me to be transparent for a moment. I understand that many of us see the choices in the 2016 Presidential election as being, for lack of a better term, deplorable. I understand that much of what we're seeing can be construed as out and out lies, ridiculous theatrics, sloppy, problematic propaganda and overall foolishness. I get that, once again, we seem to be on the road to a choice between of the lesser of two evils. I get that many of us have seen that we're under a system that does not work for a majority of our brothers and sisters, friends and family, neighbors and acquaintances. Not only does it not work for us, but many needlessly suffer as a result of that system.
But what we must understand is that voting is never merely a matter of only voting. There is hard, unglamorous, unsexy work that has to be done prior to and after voting and that work must be done by us! So vote and start a block club. Vote and join a civic/social organization. Vote and educate yourself on the way the system is set up and what needs to change about it. Vote and attend community meetings. Vote and join a protest. Vote and have conversations with other people about how they vote regardless of party affiliation or viewpoint. Vote and become more familiar with the legal system and how it positively and negatively impacts your own life and the lives of people in your community.
Vote and learn about how your vote impacts dollars and resources flowing into and out of your community. Vote and host a potluck meeting at your house. Vote and tune into diverse sources of news about your community and the world around you. Vote and do voracious research. Vote and pool resources for groups you want to support. Vote and do what you can to hold people and policies that you vote for accountable.
Simply put, vote and take action; regardless of whether you claim to care or not care about politics, government and elections; regardless of who or what you believe in or claim to support; and regardless of what side you call yourself falling on. Because when all is said and done, if you don’t turn onto politics, politics has the potential to turn on you.
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