I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am a citizen of the United States of America. In Florida, the state where I currently reside, if you do not subscribe to either party you are labeled as, “no party affiliation.”
Having no party affiliation means I do not get to participate in the party primaries. The same restriction applies in some, but not all, other states were a voting citizen, without a party, may also be categorized as independent.
This is one of the downfalls of the way our political system is currently set up. With the 50 different states, come 50 sets of state level laws. Voting on a federal, state and local level are not streamlined in any way shape or form. What they do in Wisconsin is likely different from what they do in Maine. With city, county, incorporated, unincorporated, village, town and neighborhood legislation possible, navigating the world of politics can prove to be a heavy undertaking.
Still recent events have shown us just how out of hand things can get if left unchecked by a serious representation of the citizens of our country.
So, I am pushing myself to get and stay involved on a more serious level. So far that means that I am familiarizing myself with the candidates in my area for the coming election.
The Florida primaries are at the end of August. Early voting has already begun for the primaries. The main election is in November.
At this point, there may be some last ditch efforts to get more people registered. That is great. Fight to the end to win.
But I want to focus on the people who are already registered. I know many people who are registered to vote but are not really involved in the political process. It’s great to register. It’s better to participate.
Full disclosure, I have been that voter who shows up only knowing the main candidates and is overwhelmed by an extensive multi-page ballot. Dumbfounded by the plethora of options before me I rattle my brain to think if I have heard the names before, what do these amendments mean, if I check yes am are agreeing to the measure or declining it? Why is this shit written like a legal reference book? This should not be so hard.
The only solution I can come up with is to be more prepared. To know the ballot before we make our selections. It’s what I tell myself every time I encounter this scenario. Yes, it’s happened more than once.
I suppose because we can be creatures of habit we continue to do things that simply do not give us the results we desire.
I want to live in a country where I feel like the officials, the professionals, the politicians who are making the decisions that affect my community and day to day life are looking out for the best interest of the people. Unfortunately, for too many Americans the people who represent us are more interested in protecting their pockets. The people in the districts they represent are of no consequence to them.
I know I want a different result and so I must change my habits and show a stronger commitment to changing the process.
Again, being informed is a major part of the battle. I have downloaded and printed out the sample ballot for my area. In doing this I learned that there are some things on the ballot that “no party affiliation” voters are able to vote on in the primaries. Learned something new!
You too should research your local candidates. And find out what measures are being presented to be voted on near you. Download and print out the sample ballot for your area.
I will go as far as to say I hate politics, especially the way it is practiced in this land. BUT, I firmly believe in the power of the people. When we ban together and push our political agendas we incite change.
View the debates, attend the meet and greets, check out their websites, know the people you vote for to represent YOU.
Do a google search on United States political parties throughout the history of the country. Check out all the timelines and all the times they have switched and merged their missions. Remember the Whigs and federalist from U.S. history class? This stuff is not written in stone. Laws change, policies change, parties change. I say it’s time we crash the parties.
Why do we need the labels? The very existence of the two party system fosters division. I don’t care what set they claim, I am voting for the person who exhibits the most integrity. The people who are trying to honor their positions as a public servants will be the ones who get my vote.
- the study of the rights and duties of citizenship.
Let’s put civics back in the conversation. What are our rights? What are our duties? What kinds of citizens will we be? Will we be on the right side of history? It starts with you and me. We will see.