You Get What You Vote For

I was reading an article this about cities that spent their lockdown learning and are now putting in thoughtful changes to make their cities more livable: wider sidewalks or no-car streets; stronger ecological laws to keep their air cleaner; more affordable housing.

And then I thought about my city, New York, and sighed. DeBlasio is a disaster – he’s already hinting that he will cut city services, including the hospitals that worked so hard this winter keeping people alive.

I hold myself partly to blame – I voted for him instead of Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary the year that he was voted into office. Many times since then, I’ve regretted my choice. Why did I vote for him? He seemed like a good dad. I kid you not and I was talking to someone else yesterday who said the same thing in the same words.

That’s right: instead of voting with our heads for Christine Quinn, who had proven herself again and again, we voted for a guy because he seemed like a good dad. Dumb dumb dumb. This is why we got that lecher Bill for president instead of Hilary.

All over the country now, the quality of local elected officials are being tested and many are being found wanting.

Ask yourself, did my mayor, governor, congressperson:

  • Demonstrate leadership in a time of crisis, rallying my community together to make the necessary sacrifices required to nip this in the bud?
  • Encourage us to work together to care for the vulnerable?
  • Partner with civic leaders and leaders in neighboring communities to find unique solutions to common problems — even if they were usually on opposite sides?
  • Stand up in the face of opposition from a vocal minority and hold the line?
  • Encourage the community to continue the necessary safeguards even after the sun came out and everyone wanted to escape confinement?
  • Use this experience as an opportunity to improve the community, instead of retreating to the old normal?

If not, then you probably got what you voted for.

We have a bad habit, here in the U.S. of not voting at all. Even when we do vote, we don’t vote primaries, which is where new voices have a chance to be heard. Even if we do vote primaries, we don’t bother to learn about candidates: we vote based on their position on taxes or abortion or some other single issue that aligns with our values. At best, we elect someone incompetent, like DeBlasio. At worst, we learn that that single issue is accompanied by a host of other issues that we don’t like.

This is how we ended up with such a gerrymandered system – because people voted for people who seemed like good dads on the school boards, and those people moved up to city councils and state houses, continuing to get re-elected because of a single issue. And once in state houses, they redrew the lines to keep themselves in office and prevent a diversity of voices from being represented.

Your vote matters.

Use it.

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