INDIANAPOLIS - An estimated $4 billion will be spent on the 2014 elections, an all-time midterm cycle record. This money is being used to support candidates, attack candidates, and try to persuade Americans to show up at the polls on November 4th.
And yet, historically low voter turn-out is expected across Indiana and nationwide on Tuesday. In most areas, officials expect their cocooned party base will show up, just not in huge droves as they would in a presidential election year. More middle-of-the-road voters, however, will probably stay home, even though they are the ones who could tip the balance in many contested races.
Why stay home? Well, politics is a big turn-off to a lot of people. Shocking, I know. All that spending has proven to do is drive Americans further away and make them feel like voting is an endorsement of a few bad actors when voting should be an opportunity to send a message to the politicians who need to stop their childish antics.
It’s why those of us who spend time working in and writing about politics are often made to feel ashamed of our involvement. And while there is plenty of shame to go around in this business - brought about by others who knowingly mislead the public to suit their motives or willingly ignore the many problems we face because re-election cannot be guaranteed otherwise - I'm not ashamed.?
In fact, the hijacking of contemporary politics by those with no desire to produce progress only fuels a fire in me to be more involved and to be a stronger participant in our democratic republic.
Just as the clowns alone do not determine the success of the circus, I have no interest in allowing the clowns of politics to determine the future of this country.??Aye, but there’s the rub.
These candidates, those campaigns and the media have been given free rein to turn elections into games because not enough of us turn out to vote. More attention is paid to what’s called the horse race – who’s up, down, and falling; who raised the most money; who got the best endorsement; who has the catchiest sound bite. Elections, though, are not games. They have real life consequences for 300 million-plus Americans living today and millions more to come.??Therefore, we each have an obligation to ourselves to stop allowing others to treat elections like a game.
Decisions will be made as a result of this Tuesday's election that will have lasting impact on our lives. Town council members will determine when and how roads are paved. State representatives and senators will debate and decide whether to change the school funding formula and how to best allocate state tax dollars. Members of the U.S. Congress will play a role in charting the path forward for our economy, tackling our debt and, perhaps, reforming the Affordable Care Act.??Those who get elected at every level of government will have a lot on their plates and we have the responsibility to pick the best people to handle the load. So, if you haven't already, read up on the options available to you and make informed decisions about your future and the future of your family and friends.
My suggestion is that if in your research you come across a candidate who doesn't offer ideas and plans, don't vote for them. I'm not concerned about their party affiliation. Show them the nearest possible exit.?
When you do find candidates who have offered ideas, and do have solutions for the problems that face us, hear them out. Read their website, check out a few stories about them on the campaign trail, listen to what they have to say. Then, at exactly 6:00 a.m. on November 4th (if you follow all the steps above you'll be that excited to participate in the great privilege of voting), head to your designated polling location and exercise your right to vote.
??Our Founders gave us a republic, if we could keep it, as Benjamin Franklin famously said. Keeping it requires coming out from the soothing glow of our smartphones and casting votes today that will better our future.??Let me put it this way: if you're tired of only the ideological extremes having a voice, November 4th was meant just for you. Get out and vote.
Pete Seat is senior project manager at the Indianapolis-based Hathaway Strategies and author of the recently published book The War on Millennials. He was previously a spokesman for President George W. Bush, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats and the Indiana Republican Party.