Every citizen of Toledo has a right, and a duty, to vote on Tuesday.
Brave men and women died to assure that we have this fundamental right. Yet, in national elections, fully 50 percent of us do not exercise this right. In midterm congressional elections, only about one-third of America votes. And in most local elections, as will occur throughout Ohio and the nation today, a little less than 27 percent of eligible voters typically bother to vote.
Voter participation has been falling in the United States for years.
And it has to do, many of us think, with a politics that is often irrelevant to our lives, and with leaders who do not inspire or lead.
We also have the right to abstain.
When young people stay home, when African-Americans stay home, they are sending a message: There is nothing for me at the polls.
Brave men and women died for that too — the right to protest by our absence.
But if that is your decision — “I don’t vote, it only encourages them” — what are you doing instead to make things better?
You are still a citizen. This is still your city. This is still your country.
And if you are voting, what are you doing as well?
The great German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt said: “The voting booth is too small” for citizenship.
Whether you voted or protested by staying home today, think about what you can do for your city and for your country: Join the National Guard; join Tree Toledo and plant trees; become a mentor; work to save Lake Erie; help remove bright from your neighborhood and street.
Voting is something we all should do. But it is really the least we can do for the country that has given us life and liberty. Today, and after today, find a way to participate.
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