Use your voice and vote — there’s much at stake

As an American who has spent most of my adult life living overseas, I take pride in the democratic values on which our country was founded. In June, I took my children to witness the ballot counting of the primary election at the Plumas County Courthouse. I wanted them to see democracy in action and to see (literally!) that every vote counts and that each individual has an equal opportunity to voice their opinion in shaping a government of, by, and for the people.

When talking with volunteers who indicated that voter turnout was a bit disappointing, my son asked me if voting was free. When I replied that it was, he asked “then why doesn’t everyone vote?” Having lived in multiple countries where the citizens have no say, where one can be jailed or shot for expressing their opinion, and where having choice of any kind is not an option, I wasn’t sure how to respond.

Has public opinion for politics become so eroded by disbelief and disgust that people have adopted apathy to cope with feeling powerless? If ever there was a time to be reminded that democracy is not a spectator sport and that rights, if not upheld and fought for, can be taken away, that time is now, and your voice is your vote.

For two centuries, America has been a beacon of hope, tolerance, and justice, but this is the case no longer. The current administration has mocked and denigrated these patriotic values with policies that lack transparency and integrity and instead promote fear-mongering, intolerance, and dishonesty. Our forefathers created a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is imperative that we uphold our democratic institutions. It’s on us, the citizens of this great nation, to do our research in choosing the candidates that uphold our values.

We need representatives in government that don’t blindly follow the party line, but are thoughtful in addressing concerns and creative in finding solutions. We are a nation that has prided itself on upholding moral standards of conduct, supporting the underdogs, providing equal opportunities, and setting an example for the rest of the world. I want my children to be proud of the country we call home.

Our voices matter. This is why my family has spent every Friday afternoon with the dedicated group of resisters that protest the current trend of totalitarian policies at Dame Shirley Plaza … because we can. It is our right and a tenant of a free and democratic nation to express our opinions and to speak up for what we believe is right. Choice and freedom are not a given, but they are what make our country great.

Come November, please use your voice and vote to help realign the direction of our country with the American values of justice, tolerance and common sense.

It’s the patriotic thing to do.