Vote Like Your Life Depends On It

One of the missions of the binghamton bridge is to amplify local progressive news and organizations. We have been very impressed with AccessAbility, the newsletter of the Southern Tier Independence Center. The analysis of NYS politics and budget is excellent. The writing of Ken and Marie Dibble is just great. We highly recommend, in particular, an article about why voting matters.  There are other articles of interest as well, so take a look at the pdf of the most recent issue #147 Summer 2022, page 8.  And subscribe!!

Click here.

Here’s a sample:

This is an election year. You may already
be tired of hearing about that. We under

stand. The endless repetition of opposing

extreme viewpoints on what usually is a

rather small range of hot-button issues

gets tedious at best, and may at times gen

erate the kind of anger and anxiety that

all of us would rather avoid. After all, we

have enough stuff going on in our lives

that produce those feelings already. In re

cent years, as American society has grown

more and more politically polarized, the

endless hammering on divisive topics

only seems to get worse. And most of us

understand, on some level, that much of

this is being propagated by people whose

only goal is to obtain and hold on to pow

er for their own personal satisfaction. We

don’t want to cause you more misery by

making you think about this again.

But this is extremely important.

Many, if not most of you, never attended

a high school Civics class. They seem to

have gone out of fashion with dial phones

and avocado green refrigerators. That is a

tragedy, because that means that most of

you have never been told by someone you

trust and respect about some very basic

principles. So we’re going to take a little

time here to do that.

The United States’ form of government

is a representative republic. It is not a de

mocracy. That means citizens are repre

sented at all levels of government—local,

state, and federal—by officials who are

elected directly by the people in most cas

es (the president and vice president are not

directly elected, nor are federal judges).

The key word here is “elected.” Although

this is, as Abe Lincoln said, government

“by the people,” and under our Constitu

tion, Americans have the right to peace

ably assemble and to petition the govern

ment for redress of grievances, the only

time when citizens get to put their fingers

on the actual levers of government is on

election day.

You have an obligation, a duty, to take

advantage of every single one of those

opportunities. No, it’s not a legal require

ment. It’s more important than that, be

cause in order for elected officials to truly

represent the people, the people—all of

them—must participate in elections. It’s

more like a need: you need to eat and

breathe in order to live. You need to vote

in order to stay free.

When the Constitution was written in

Philadelphia, and the delegates who wrote

it were leaving what’s now known as In

dependence Hall, one of them, Benjamin

Franklin, was asked by a woman on the

street, “What kind of government will we

have?” Franklin famously replied, “A Re

public—if you can keep it.”

That wasn’t a cute joke. It was a histori

cal reference. Prior to that time, republics

did not have a reputation for surviving

for very long. It was too easy for them to

be manipulated by power-hungry dema

gogues and transformed into corrupt oli

garchies or dictatorships. That happened

a lot, and not just in ancient history, as in

Rome. After the French Revolution estab

lished a republic in the late 18
th century,
France went through four republics, each

of them overthrown by corrupt and cyni

cal autocrats, right up into the mid-20
century. In February of 1917, Russians

overthrew their Czar and established a

republic. It was so weak that Lenin and

his Bolsheviks were able to destroy it just

eight months later. When most of the in

dependent German states joined to cre

ate Germany in the 1860s, they set up a

parliamentary republic; it was corrupted

by a military autocracy shortly before

World War I and re-established after that

war. Only 15 years later, a few cynical

and overconfident right-wing politicians

allowed Adolf Hitler to become its head,

believing, incorrectly, that they could con

trol him. You know what happened next.

Read more  (on page 8)

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