As midterm elections come up across the country, politicians are pushing hard to catch and retain the attention of voters. Although there will be a significant number of people who go out t vote, there’s always going to be a sect of people that don’t participate.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the democratic process, as this country implements it, is incredibly flawed. When the system fails to address the needs of hard working citizens, I can’t help but feel cynical. I know I’m not alone in feeling that sentiment. For a moment, I found myself questioning whether elections would even yield results.
Sometimes I think: Does my vote even matter?
Maybe the game is rigged. Maybe it isn’t. That’s your decision to make. To me, the system, as it exists, feels rigged. When lobbyists can pressure politicians to vote against legislation that would place regulations and restrictions on fossil fuels, for instance, those with the money are able to circumvent the basic principle of democracy – a system where the people have a say in government. To me, that’s not democracy. That’s bribery.
There’s nothing that says that things have to stay this way though. Breaking out of the frustration and apathy that plagues a person who doubts the efficacy of elections is a challenge, but it’s a necessary to overcome if we want to maintain our democracy and civil liberties.
Even then, elections aren’t our only option. Protests and activism are crucial instruments available in the toolkit. If we limit our participation in the democratic process by only voting and failing to participate in other ways, free reign is then surrendered to reactionary forces that would have the power to pass horrendous legislation targeting vulnerable communities.
It’s crucial to any community’s well-being that different beliefs be allowed to grow and mature with the passing of time. If enough ground is conceded though, then there won’t be enough space for these ideas to flourish.
Does this mean we should accept the politician who steps forward and says that their ideas will save us? Should be blindlessly believe them? No, absolutely not. We should always remain critical of them. We should be conscious of the fact that we can’t entirely rely on them. Politicians operate on a distinct understanding of daily life due to their experience within the halls of power. They hold the power but they are not the
Democracy’s greatest strength, rather, is held within those around us. There is power in a united community. Everyone is given a voice, a say in how the world should be. After all, no one besides me knows what is best for you, and no one besides you knows what is best for you.
Democracy is a never-ending quest to a better future. The only way we’ll get there is through constant work, both to advance noble causes and to minimize the possiblity of backsliding towards authoritarianism and the worst impulses of society. Lives are on the line, and we have to do our best.