Every four years, our nation does an incredible thing that we often fail to appreciate. America goes through a process of transition of power that is orderly, democratic, and, most important, free from violence. As we can clearly see by the unrest going on in the rest of the world, this is not the norm. Since its founding, America has successfully transferred power every four years, without incident. Even during Bush versus Gore, when the election results were in question, and our Supreme Court had to participate, there was a seamless transition of power. No guns were drawn by either party. This fact should not be ignored, nor the monumental accomplishment of this feat overlooked.
What happens when we cease to acknowledge this civility? What happens when we no longer appreciate this peace that our society enjoys as a result of our democratic process? Apathy. I submit that it is already in the process of happening for 40% to 50% of our population. The troubling statistics cannot be ignored. Each presidential election for the last 10 years has only drawn 50-60% of those eligible to vote. This is a sad fact for those who have died for our right to vote. This is a sad fact for those groups who have been discriminated against who have not always had the right to vote. This is a sad fact for a nation in a world where many nations do not have a democratic process and would literally die to have the rights that we enjoy in America. We saw this in Iraq, after Hussein was ousted, when those voting for the first time in a truly democratic election, dipped their fingers in purple ink. What many people do not know is that these people were targeted, and their lives threatened, just for voting. These people were willing to risk their lives to vote
We do not have to accept this apathy in our country. We, ourselves, can get out and vote, and as parents, we can educate our children about the privilege that they enjoy in this great nation of ours. We can teach them about our history and the obligation that they have to inform themselves and to vote. Children who see their parents vote are much more likely to vote themselves when they are of age. Discuss politics with your children, using age appropriate language and topics. We are the most important educators that our children have. It is important to prioritize time for this part of their education. We cannot allow our children to become part of those not voting and failing to understand that their participation in this great democracy is crucial to keep our democracy going.
If we neglect to participate in the process, as Alexis de Tocqueville commented, “those who fail to participate in the process give up their right to complain.” However, I fear an even more tragic outcome. When we fail to participate in democracy, we may find that we no longer have a democracy in which to participate. Let’s leave the world a better place for our children. You, as parents, can help to make this happen. Educate your children about our amazing democracy. Please vote on the first Tuesday of November. Let your children see you eagerly participating in the democratic process. You can make a difference.