You have a duty to vote, to be involved and active in politics. As citizens we are responsible for the decisions and actions of our country and state. We choose what laws we wish to live under, how much to spend or borrow, what quality of air we want to breathe and water we want to drink. We decide whether to go to war or to make peace. We do all this through our representatives in government and through our own actions in our communities.
Midterm elections are important because in them we vote for the people who actually make laws and impact our daily lives (the president cannot make law). Here in Colorado, we have four ballot initiatives to vote on this year, a U.S. senate seat, a U.S. representative, governor and a slew of other important state and county officials like Secretary of State.
Elections are confusing, though. There are a lot of campaign advertisements shouting at us and most of us are not sure about whether those advertisements are true or not (one thing we all agree on is that they are annoying). There are a lot of candidates on the ballot and these issues are confusing. So how do you go about making reasonable voting choices? That is what I was wondering a couple weeks ago.
After giving it some thought, I decided the best way to make informed, reason-based choices in how I voted would be to consult with my fellow citizens in a way that brought light and life to the people and issues we are now voting on. So I organized a get together and asked the people coming to look up some information about candidates and the ballot initiatives and to give them some thought. When the night came for our talk we set out the chips and salsa and began to work out what was at stake in this year’s election.
The conversation took a little moderating to keep on topic and there were some challenges in sharing information we were looking up on; Colorado Public Radio (where there are some great interviews in text and audio of candidates for easy comparing), Ballotpedia, Judgepedia, The Collegian, along with voting guides from The League of Women Voters and the Colorado Blue Book. But the experience was exhilarating and enlightened us all to nuance and perspectives we might never have understood alone. This was good for quashing my unsubstantiated beliefs about candidates and analyzing how the ballot initiatives would affect us and whether or not they were morally right. Learning about parties and their candidates (besides Democrats and Republicans) inspired excitement that there are other options.
We didn’t always come to the same conclusion on who we should vote for, but we all learned from each other’s facts and informed perspectives. In meeting and talking about this stuff we were taking political action, something that you can do too. All it takes is talking with others with the intention to shed light on the issues and candidates, you can do it anywhere. Then, go vote.
Collegian Columnist Ryan Deuschle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.