With the constant media attention and billions of dollars involved in the federal election campaign, one might be forgiven for thinking that no election could possibly be more important to our everyday lives than the race for the White House, or control of Congress. I beg to differ.
Yes, of course, it is important to keep the nuclear codes out of the hands of a thin-skinned, xenophobic misogynist and clinical narcissist with delusions of Berlusconi. The real action, though, the elections that affect you directly and on a day to day basis, happen down-ballot.
Don't think so? Ask the people of Kansas, who elected a governor and state legislature that promised to use their economy as a guinea pig, then gutted it. Ask public sector workers in Wisconsin. Or on the positive side, take a glance at the economy and state budget of our neighbors to the north.
Even closer to home, the ripple effects of the minimum wage hike passed in Johnson County last year have made their way to three other counties, and are now being felt on Terrace Hill. Nota Bene: Governor Branstad hedged like an English gardener on any commitment to actually raise the wage statewide, and you can bet that if the Republicans take control of the state senate, the Governor will forget he said anything about a minimum wage hike. Our JoCo state senators aren't up until the 2018 ballot, but that's why we must fight for candidates like Chris Brase over in Muscatine (who is in a make-or-break race), Liz Mathis up in the Cedar rapids metro, as well as House candidates like Amy Nielsen here in JoCo (Dist. 77 - that's retiring representative Sally Stutsman's current seat) and Gary Kroeger up in District 60 around Cedar Falls. Please send them all the money and time you can spare.
What the Heck is "Measure C"?
If you live within the borders of Iowa City, Measure C is an important way to increase your voice in how your city runs. In a nutshell, what the measure does is decrease the number of signatures necessary to get a measure (aka: referendum) onto the City ballot. Detractors will say "it gives too much power to special interests," but that's simply because it's not their special interests. Remember that every measure must first go before the City Council, and only if it is not passed there can it go onto the ballot. Think of it as "The People's Override." Vote YES on Measure C.
More Than Your Vote
You can already vote at the auditor's office and at Sattelite voting stations around the county, and I urge you to do so and to take friends and family along. But I and all the other Democrats up and down the ballot are asking for much more than your vote. The cure to what ails our social and political systems will not come from the White House or Congress. It will come from the people, at the city, county, and state level. And it will come only when people like you do more than vote, but get actively involved. Work for campaigns, yes, but keep working after the election. Volunteer for commissions. Protest injustice. Write or call your elected officials and hold them accountable.
The only thing that can defeat billions of lobbyist dollars is millions of activist voters.