By BRIAN SCHRADER
Downtown & Uptown News
The 2020 election is almost upon us and some of you are not going to vote. Over 40% of Californians eligible to vote in the last presidential election did not make their voices heard, and while the 2018 midterms had a surprisingly high turnout, over 35% of Californians stayed home. Most people are not fans of national politics, and who can blame them? However, there’s a lot more on the ballot this year than who will be our next president and there’s possibility in the air in California specifically. This year everything is up for grabs from ballot measures to state representatives, to the mayor and the city council. If there were ever a year to make your voice heard, this is the one.
This year has been filled with calamity after calamity and it can feel like we’re all listless—adrift in the currents of this age. But elections are how we, in a democracy, right the ship of state. They are how we decide on a path forward and how we solve our problems. Today much of our politics takes place under the shadow of division and strife; each side blaming the other for their grievances. We have, in many ways, lost the ability to discuss and debate real solutions to problems. But in a democracy, even a flawed one, we must come together with a shared version of reality and devise real, actionable and effective solutions. Sometimes our side wins and sometimes not, but we must keep playing the game. In the game of democracy each of us have our roles to play: some decide our laws, others execute or enforce them, but We the People must decide for ourselves who fills each role and when. We the People are the coaches: We decide who plays and who sits on the bench; we make these decisions every two years with a pen and a ballot.
Some will say that your vote doesn’t matter. They will point to the simple fact that California will almost certainly go blue in the presidential race, as it has for nearly 30 years, regardless of your preference. This may be true, but it ignores two very simple facts. There is much more than just the presidency up for grabs. For voters who care about increasing rent prices, the housing crisis, internet privacy, police reform and climate change, this election matters. In some cases, there are ballot measures, put directly to the voters, to address these issues. In other cases, voters will be asked to decide who will get a seat at the negotiating table when these issues are discussed and actions are taken (or not taken). One vote rarely makes a difference, true, but it is incredibly common for the fate of districts, ballot measures, mayoral races and more to be decided by a few hundred votes. Often the results affecting some of our most important decisions can be swayed by fewer people than those in a high-school’s graduating class. Put another way: Convincing people not to vote is often easier than convincing them to switch sides, so opting out of the voting process often benefits those in opposition to your interests. Voting is perhaps the single most important thing Americans can do to effect change in their own lives. If voting didn’t matter, why did generations of disenfranchised Americans fight so hard to do so?
If you, like me, look out at the world today and want to see it changed and made better, then you must vote. Our system is far from perfect; it never was. Our founders certainly didn’t think so. Their own words state that our constitution was written, “in Order to form a more perfect Union”. Their goal was to strive for perfection, to get closer and closer to that impossible goal, all while knowing they could never truly achieve it. The mission of the United States has never been to hold on to some imagined perfection, instead it is to constantly push for a better world: A more just, more free, and more prosperous society. That we are not perfect now is not a failing, it simply means there is more work to be done. In a democracy, We the People are responsible for the world we create. We make it what it is and we do that with our vote.
— Brian Schrader is a local business owner, software developer, writer and San Diego resident living in Normal Heights.