09 May 2006

Civic duty

I've voted in all the elections that have come up since I was old enough to vote, but I feel like I'm only starting to get the process now years later. I know: lame. It's not enough to vote for the person whose views most closely match my own and then leave it at that or give up if they lose. It's about representation. Obvious, right? If I don't speak up, my reps will make assumptions about what I want that may not be valid. I'm still part of a group, a district, a state, so my point of view may not be the majority, but it's still important to be heard. Informed citizenry, and all that.

The internet makes it easier to keep up with issues and to contact reps by email, but because it's so easy to email, the floods of messages they receive take longer to sort through, so they are less timely than phone calls. Did I mention how much I hate making phone calls? Right. Anyway... I forced myself to make some calls regarding Network Neutrality this afternoon, and I still have some of that stress adrenaline in my veins. I'll just have to keep up with it until calling feels like no big deal.

This reminds me of a friend from high school. Liza and I had graduated, gone off to colleges for a year or two, and were once again hanging out during the summer. It must've coincided with an election year because she was complaining about some issue or politician. When I told her she could just vote against it or for someone else, she revealed that she wasn't registered to vote and didn't plan to. I was appalled, and then I was inspired.

One of the graduation requirements at our high school was learning CPR. Why not make registering to vote mandatory for anyone over 18?

That's when Liza memorably declared, "You can make me register, but you can't make me vote."

That's when I became livid. Yet another straw on the doomed camel's back of our friendship.

When I got home, I stayed up until 2 AM writing an impassioned letter to the principal of the high school with my suggestion. He wrote back saying they would start by sending birthday cards with reminders to students turning 18.

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  1. I'm not convinced you're right on this Net Neutrality thing, but I love your passion, and look forward to reading more of your opinion as the debate moves forward. I find you to be a pretty reasonable person (most of the time).

  2. If for no other reason than to give NN a bit more exposure, that's why I voted and blogged about it. I don't know all the nuances of it. But if I don't know them then there are many others who know even less.

    CPR to graduate? Seriously?

  3. Hyperion: "I find you to be a pretty reasonable person (most of the time)." That totally made me laugh. So true.

    My goal (if it can be said I even had a specific one when I wrote that post) is not to sway anyone per se; I just want to encourage people to get involved and informed.

    Kev: That's what I figure too. Everything has nuance and spin, so it is hard to find time to assimilate all the info.

    And yeah, seriously. Everyone who took health instead of gym as a senior learned it anyway. And the rest of us (I got into an experimental alternative gym program that year) just spent a school day or two getting certified. We'd all already gotten basic first aid certification in middle school, so it wasn't that hard.

    My earth science teacher was an EMT, so maybe he established that requirement. It never seemed that odd to me. It's too bad if it's really that unusual.

  4. I couldn't agree with you more. Nothing annoys me like listening to someone complain, who then reveals that they didn't/don't/never vote. Citizenship is a responsibility, damnit.
    And I, too, have been making phone calls to my representatives about Net Neutrality. It seems like a subject that more people should be aware.
    Great post, Claire.