It is often said that decisions are made by those who show up. Nowhere is that statement more true than at the voting booth.
The state of the economy and the nation’s dismal employment statistics make this election one of the most important of our lifetimes. We are at a crossroads, faced with a clear choice between two fundamentally different visions for our country; the path we choose on November 6th will determine what kind of America we will have in the future.
Unfortunately, many people whose lives will be irrevocably affected by November’s choices will not exercise the most basic right of a democratic system. Voter turnout in America is lower than it should be. In the last presidential election, the turnout of 56.8 percent of eligible voters was considered high – it was the highest, in fact, in 40 years. Turnout for mid-term elections is even lower, and has not topped 40 percent since 1970.
By not exercising their right to vote, tens of millions of Americans are handing over decision-making power over fundamental aspects of their lives: healthcare, education, employment. And since our elections are often decided by the thinnest of margins, every vote really does count.
This election matters for everyone: for the homemaker worried about paying bills, for the parents worried about their children’s educations, for the soldier coming home to a bleak job market, for the small-business owner hoping to expand. Every American has a personal stake.
Each of us also has a personal responsibility.
True liberty comes not merely from having fundamental rights, it comes from exercising them. Our nation’s founders fought and died for the principles of democracy, as have countless others since. The brave men and women who worked to ensure universal enfranchisement made our country truly inclusive. We should never take these rights for granted; they are the precious result of great sacrifices. As the writer Louis L’Amour put it, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Every election is a reaffirmation of our democratic principles; every vote is an exercise of freedom.
Early voting in Texas starts October 22nd. Whether in person or by mail, early or on election day itself, I urge every Texan to exercise the right that is the cornerstone of our democracy: the right to vote.
This column was written by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.