Staying home on Election Day: the ultimate bad decision

 “There are 13 municipal elections on the ballot Tuesday, and a handful of others are scattered throughout November. Voters will head to the polls Tuesday in Annapolis, Bel Air, Chestertown, College Park, Denton, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt, Greensboro, Laurel, Marydel, Pittsville and Takoma Park.

Annapolis and Frederick are the big prizes. These are partisan elections, in contrast to the others — and both political parties have a lot at stake.”

These are not to be ignored. Here's why.

/PM BlogSpace Report/ We don’t have an election here in Maryland till next June’s primary, right?

Well, wrong.

Meghan Thompson reports in Maryland Matters: “There are 13 municipal elections on the ballot Tuesday, and a handful of others are scattered throughout November. Voters will head to the polls Tuesday in Annapolis, Bel Air, Chestertown, College Park, Denton, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt, Greensboro, Laurel, Marydel, Pittsville and Takoma Park.

Annapolis and Frederick are the big prizes. These are partisan elections, in contrast to the others — and both political parties have a lot at stake.”

These are not to be ignored. If our year-long national nightmare since last Nov. 8 has taught us anything, it is that resistance, and democratic engagement, starts at these levels. Some of the biggest pushback against Trump and his fellow gangsters has come from the city, county and state level.

What we have on our minds, though, is the terrible decision to stay home, not to vote. It all too often is not a decision at all, but a situation one finds oneself in as a result of lots of other decisions, excuses, postponed tasks and the whole web of our everyday lives. It’s still terrible.ballot_box.jpg

Voting may happen all too often to suit many of us. It is an anomaly in our routine. But we progressive types actually wish voting – or a similar decision-type opportunity for civic engagement -- happened more often. We daydream that the opportunity to make real citizenship decisions (not just snap judgments on candidates’ often-concealed personal qualities) would come along often enough for it to become habit – to weave into the fabric of our everyday lives.

In fact, that’s what we at Progressive Maryland and many of our progressive ally organizations are working toward – a democracy that is bottom-up, more focused on what we want and deserve in our lives, less on settling for what’s offered. We hope our communities, acting collectively, steadily take more power for decision-making on the issues back from the political class. We aim for less focus on the occasional opportunity to elevate to power, or to throw out, some candidate whose promises we have to compare to those of other candidates. This does not sound like the way to run a modern popular democracy.

But that is what we are enmeshed in right now; the furrow we have to plow. What we do know is what happens when too many people allow themselves to be cornered by their own little decisions into staying home, avoiding the big one. We get a Larry Hogan. We get a Donald Trump.

So if you have a chance to vote today, DO IT. Get the habit. And if you have a friend or relative somewhere – like Virginia, or New Jersey – where off-year elections have extra impact, give them a call and remind them that this is not the day to let all the little things add up to the non-decision of staying home.  That is the path to powerlessness.