If we want a democracy, we must work at it

The election of Nov. 4 is behind us and we have, I hope, learned a few things. First and foremost, if we want our form of government to work, we must work at it. I don’t mean that our elected officials, wanabe elected officials and their supporters must work at it — I mean everyone in America must work at it.

I hated to see the press, TV and radio newscasters, FOX and CNN announce that 38 percent of the voters voted in this year’s elections. That is a deplorably low percentage, yet it really doesn’t give you the true picture. When they say 38 percent voted they are saying that 38 percent of the registered voters voted. Lost is the number of citizens who are not registered voters but are eligible to register and vote.

I guess — and I can’t find a figure — that if we asked how many of those eligible to vote (registered and not registered) cast ballots the percentage of those who voted would be around 12 or 14 percent. Now that is really deplorable. That is no way to run a democracy.

In a recent column I mentioned that perhaps the campaign to “get out the vote” was not getting through to the public. We need a more grassroots approach. It would be nice to try my idea on a national level but I would be happy with a Miami-Dade County start.

We need to approach the issue on two different levels: (1) Registering those who are eligible to register but have not and (2) getting those registered voters who did not vote, out to vote.

I am not advocating a countywide campaign. That will not work — at least to date it has not worked. I am talking about a “oneon- one campaign.” I tried it this last election and it worked. Let me tell you about it.

I have a friend who always talks about how bad it is in Miami — how poorly our elected officials work and how unhappy he is with their performance. Yet he doesn’t vote, saying it doesn’t matter how he votes. You know that old story: “My little vote doesn’t count anyway, so why vote.”

I took it as a challenge. I hammered away at the importance of voting. How my vote was no more important or less important that the next guy’s vote — that we are all the same. It is the sum total of the votes that count. These are votes that decide who will next represent us in administering our government.

I said “next Thursday I am going to pick you up and take you to the polls when I vote and want you to join me in deciding who our next governor will be and what amendments we will okay or say “no” for our state constitution. “Okay, okay,” he said, perhaps to get me to stop bugging him.

I picked him up and we stood in line together. I knew that his political philosophy was different from mine, but I did not touch the subject.

My goal was to get him to vote. Next time I will lay my ideas on government on him.

Know what happened when we walked back to our car after voting? He said, “that felt good! Why have I been so lazy in the past?” I felt great and made a decision to write about my friend in my next column.

Let’s all take the following pledge: “I, (fill in your name), pledge that I will select one friend, one fellow worker or a family member that does not vote and talk them into joining me when I next vote.” Just think about the numbers, if we all did this. Instead of 38 percent voting. it would double to 76 percent. Now that would be an earthshaking accomplishment. Try the same if you know an eligible voter who is not registered and talk them into letting you take them to register.

Do this and Miami will be a far better place to live! Let me know what you think at 786-247-0547.

We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to Kenneth.Bluh@ColumbusCL.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper, its editors or publisher.

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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at kbluh@americanbsm.com or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

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