“Power to the People” – So Why Don’t They Use It?

September 15, 2020

 

There are 1,062,608 registered voters in Philadelphia. In the 2019 general election, just 234,749 cast ballots.

 

That means 827,859 people didn’t bother.

 

Why did nearly 80 percent sit out the election?  Maybe it’s because they think their vote doesn’t make a difference.

 

Here’s my perspective. I believe those who don’t vote fail to grasp the significance of living in a republic. 

 

Citizens who don’t vote believe that no matter who is in the White House or Congress, their lives won’t change much. Their perspective gains credence when you consider that the Democrats who have served these citizens for decades continue to talk about rectifying the same old problems.

 

Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden served in office for 47 years. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been there for 22 years. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been in office for 33. These three highly influential, long-serving Democrats help preface my point.

 

The Democrats squandered a major opportunity to draw uninvolved voters to their camp. They’ve wasted the last four years vilifying the president at every opportunity.

 

Whether Donald Trump deserves the criticism or not isn’t the issue. The issue is the plight of the American people – workers who lost their jobs, students in underfunded public schools, children who can’t play in front of their homes because they might be shot and killed, families who waited years to acquire an affordable house.

 

Let me underscore this by noting that Democrats controlled both houses of the 111th Congress (2009–2011) alongside President Barack Obama. The problems didn’t go away.

 

If it seems like I throw more shade in the direction of the Democrats -- well, I do. Why? Because I am a registered Democrat and have been since I was 18. I expect more from my party, which often seeks to claim the moral high ground.

 

Make no mistake, the solvable problems we face as a nation can be laid on the doorsteps of both political parties. Even more blame and shame is due for those who have served for decades in both Houses. 

 

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. A phrase repeatedly shouted at protests is “Power to the People!” Reality check. In republics and democracies, the people already have the power. We can elect candidates for political office who actually represent our interests.  

 

And here’s the good part: We have the power to vote them out if they don’t.

 

Let me repeat that: We the people have the power to vote out of office those who won’t, don’t or refuse to represent our interests. Whose interests? The interests of those living at or below the poverty line. The interests of people living in tents on our streets. The interests of those attending underfunded public schools. The interests of our military veterans.

 

Yeah, all of the above and more.

 

I believe America stands at a crucial and critical junction in history. Whether Joe Biden wins or Donald Trump is reelected, how we the people conduct ourselves during and after the election will demonstrate who we really are. We the people must say to our enemies both foreign and domestic, “We are not going to let you tear our nation apart. We are going to work together no matter who sits in the Oval Office. We will rise into a more perfect union.”

 

November 3rd is just weeks away and I can’t wait to vote because I get to send two messages. The first is for those who serve the interests of the American people: You newbies are hired and others can keep their jobs.

 

The second message is to those who don’t, won’t and refuse to serve the American people.

Pack your bags. You’re fired.

Larry Miller is the Special Projects Manager Ceisler Media's Philadelphia Office. 

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