Why I Vote
By Dr. Peg Achterman, Communication Professor
In class a few weeks ago, I asked my Mass Communication students if they would volunteer in the elementary school classroom of a niece or nephew, son or daughter. Almost all said they would. When I asked whether they’d be on the PTA, most still said they would.
“What about the local school board?” I asked. Most didn’t think so.
You might guess the response I got to whether anyone would run for city council, county council or state legislature. Where does our engagement in our community break down? Do we feel that we have no impact? That there is too much sacrifice in running? What is it that keeps you from civic engagement?
The only election I missed since turning 18 was in 1988 when I taught English in the People’s Republic of China. It wasn’t for lack of trying! The absentee ballot was sent, but was opened and delayed by the government officials in my province. I desperately wanted to vote, but was denied that right. I’ve never taken this privilege lightly in the 24 years since.
The place where you can be engaged every time is in the voting booth. This is the first step you take in stating that you care about the place you live and the people who live around you. I would go so far as to say that it is the playing out of Jesus’ commandment to “love one another.” Let me explain by starting close to home.
You probably don’t talk about money too much with your roommates, but imagine someone you know at NU is struggling to stay in school because of trouble with grants and loans. Put a face to that – who do you know that might not be able to stay here? Or, better yet, who do you know that might get some help to come to NU? Both of our presidential candidates worked to stop the doubling of interest rates on federal Stafford loans this fall. That saved students like you a lot of money.
We also don’t talk too much about health concerns and the amount of money it costs to spend a night in the hospital. Under the Affordable Care Act you’re given the opportunity to stay on a parent or guardian’s insurance plan until you are 26 years old. That is some breathing room on something that can be quite costly. The presidential candidates are calling for different ways to remedy our healthcare issues, but they agree there is need to fix the problems.
On a more local issue — do you want NBA basketball back in the area? Your city and county council representatives vote on that issue and therefore, whom you vote into those offices makes a difference in the outcome of that decision.
Jesus wants us to reach out in love and as a communication professor, I think that great love means a lot of listening
and then action. The Lord often used active verbs in His teaching— “go,” “be light,” “show the way.” When I vote I am an active citizen in a country where it is our great freedom to choose our leaders— from the school board to the presidency. It is one of the ways I love those around me—by caring about the future of my community.
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