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Vote and make a difference | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To the editor:
The polls for the upcoming elections are scaring me. They seem to be dominated by those who argue we need a complete change of governmental leaders: "Vote in people who lead us into more frustration and anger! Take us back to the catastrophe of the Bush administration that initiated most of the serious problems our nation now faces. Let us be led by those with little or no experience, no commitment to reform that addresses the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, no real understanding of the complexity of political process."
But where exactly does that get us? As an equally angry person, I would argue that the better way is to seriously ask how to more effectively channel that anger into making our government more responsive to our needs.
Here's my plan: I will vote for Rick Larsen and Patty Murray, for example. They have significant seniority and influence in Congress that we in Washington cannot afford to squander. They are generally good people. They do listen. They do have a serious commitment to service and they are smart and competent.
Assuming they get elected I am then going to hold them accountable as never before. I am going to demand that the bloated military budget be significantly cut as has been widely proposed as a means of freeing money to invest in the needs of our people and to reduce the deficit. I'm going to demand accountability for those who produced policies that permit torture.
I'm going to demand they offer strong, unequivocal leadership to address global warming, further health care reform, and to regulate Wall Street and the banks.
That's for a start. I would say the same for local and state elections: I will support experienced, competent people, Democrat or Republican, and then I will hold them accountable to work in good faith on behalf of the common good.
Those of us inflamed by hope and pride during the last election need to reignite that ember of "Yes we can!" in our disappointed, angry souls at least enough to vote and take a hundred people with us. We need to vote because we still believe we can make a difference in our nation, and we can demand a government that responds to the real needs of our people.
Many of us are equally frightened by the rate and scope of change in our country these past couple of decades. Many of us have lost jobs, and we just don't trust that the existing government gives a hoot about us, our kids, our future. All the politicians seem to care about is being reelected and taking care of those who contributed substantially to their elections. Unfortunately there is a truth in this, and we have good reason to be angry.
But I would plead with all of us: Ask ourselves if we really think any candidate will really, honestly better serve our personal, state and national interests? Will they be more inclined to listen to our needs and the needs of our families and neighbors? It is a terrible mistake to be believe that by simply voting out everyone in present leadership we will necessarily be better served.
All elections are ultimately about what kind of people we are as a community and as a people. Who and what do we value? I encourage us all to vote our informed conscience, motivated in part by fear and anger perhaps, but mostly motivated by the privilege we have in being able to vote and to hold our leaders accountable for living up to the best our nation has to offer us and our world.