Voting: How it changes things, and doesn’t

Voting: How it changes things, and doesn’t

Image via Wikipedia entry on Voting, CC 2.0 license.

WASHINGTON, November 6, 2016 — I believe in voting. In America, it is not only a right. It is a true privilege. I vote and I am proud to be an American. And if there is any doubt that “one vote” matters, recall Florida back in 2000, when President George W. Bush was re-elected: One vote on the Supreme Court made him President.

The spectacle of this year’s Presidential race makes it very likely we are losing sight that this election has presented real choices for voters, with significant implications for many of the issues that many people care about and that will affect many people.

Next Tuesday, many things may change because of voters, having nothing to do with who becomes the next President.

Next Tuesday, many things may change due to a rising group of people, those voters, aged eighteen to thirty four that the media calls millennials. These new and nearly new voters might truly be the moving force behind the kind of real change that has never before been seen in our country. Individuals in this age bracket now form the largest eligible voting bloc in the nation, and it is predicted that they will help decide numerous very real and very critical life, social and financial issues as well as others. Among these issues, appearing on various ballots across the country, are:

  • Minimum wage increases
  • Proposed taxation of big corporations to pay for schools and health care
  • The question of whether to legalize marijuana
  • Choices about immigration laws
  • Access to abortion services and contraception

Voting sometimes means ousting elected officials who do not act in ways the electorate desires. Prosecutors in Chicago and Cleveland lost re-elections earlier this year, in part due to local organizing led by Black youth in reaction to the Black Lives Matters movement. Many county prosecutors and sheriffs across the country are on the ballot Tuesday.

The very definition of what constitutes certain crimes may very well be influenced Tuesday. In California, voters will decide on reforms involving parole and juvenile justice issues. In Oklahoma, voters will determine whether some drug and property crimes should be reclassified as misdemeanors.

Five years ago marijuana was illegal in every state. Now, because of younger voters, the list of five states where marijuana is legal could grow to fourteen.

Clean energy initiatives are on ballots in Florida, Nevada and Washington, paving the way for dealing with the effects of climate change.

Health decision choices abound on Tuesday. Despite some Supreme Court decisions, access to abortion and contraception are still very much controlled by elected officials. Initiatives ranging from the defunding of Planned Parenthood to others that either explicitly permit or require discrimination for LGBT Americans are on many ballots.

In our homes, in our workplaces, and in our daily lives, we tend to remain the average of the five people around us. Work, family relationships, getting by, small successes, dodging problems or navigating them when they occur, and simply getting to the next day are the day-to-day issues that consume us.

Granted, the issues and individuals that will be voted upon do and will affect us. But they do not always affect us every day.

Currently, we remain the most charitable country in the world. We pay taxes, and we will continue to do so. One role of government is supposed to be to help people who cannot help themselves. I do not advocate an unlimited system of handouts or welfare, nor condone those who play or game the current system.

Nonetheless, taxes—ranging from on-third of gross income for some to over forty percent of wages earned for others, are being gathered by a government that is subsidizing an ever-increasing amount of student debt, an ever-increasing healthcare debt (the primary cause of personal bankruptcy), and an ever-increasing income gap (caused in part by the bailouts paid by these taxes).

The ballots voters will cast on Tuesday can begin to change some of this, but likely will not alter much, at least in the short term. Even so, we still must cast our votes if we as a nation are ever to begin change. Getting to there means taking one step from here.

I fully support and thank our young military men and women who risk their lives, and whose families endure while they are doing so, in an effort to keep our country safe and to help those in other parts of the world where oppression and terrorism exist. Wars are ongoing, and will continue, foreseeably forever, if history is any barometer. But, there is no justification for war. None. Zero.

Imagine if the entire world’s population told their governments “no more wars.”

Healthcare used to be the answer for illnesses. It has evolved because we are, like it or not, a lazy society. We are a highly drugged society with many individuals addicted to or dependent upon the drugs pharmaceutical companies tell us we need.

Of the top ten health conditions that kill, almost all of them could be delayed or completely avoided by a healthier lifestyle. Two easy examples are quitting smoking and getting more sleep. Many people, unfortunately, do not want to better themselves through healthier living, so they rely on drugs instead. The healthcare system thus becomes more and more bloated, and drug companies and insurance companies keep going to the bank with mind-blowingly huge deposits. Medicine is an emergency. Health is a lifestyle.

Voters can start to change some of our upside-down, inside-out, through the looking glass existence. Politicians who advocate self-help, healthy lifestyles and incentivize businesses that reward those lifestyles can be elected.

While voting is important, going to the polls on Tuesday will not change all “big-picture” problems overnight. Every single President has disobeyed the law and the Constitution. America’s last legally declared war, in accord with the Constitution, was World War II. How many wars have we fought since then?

When elected officials want to do something unethical, they justify it by saying “the Constitution says.” For the most part, no, the Constitution does not say that.

Examine the issue of guns. The Second Amendment does not give us the right to own guns. Every politician has capitulated on this issue because it is politically necessary for them do so. Look at President Obama’s about-face on this matter from his earlier days. Those who say the Amendment authorizes gun ownership are stretching the Constitution’s words and interpreting them around the mulberry bush to justify their opinions and to continue getting the support from the highly lucrative industries that sell weapons, ammunition, and all the peripherals.

Our planet has had ice ages, warm ages, massive mother-nature disasters, meteor strikes, and it will continue to have them. We can be wiped when they occur and they can happen at any time. Voting can help the “green” effort move forward, something we should encourage. As an example, pollution can and should be controlled. Voting though, will not prevent the next tsunami.

James Altucher, author, investor, financial advisor and “life commentator,” says one solution to “green” issues would be to stop eating meat. Then there would be less massive breeding of cows, fewer cows farting and  thus less methane gas polluting the environment. Entire problem solved.

Altucher says you should live a good life where you explore your interests, love your family and help the people around you. He says that maybe if everyone in the world did those things, it might have stopped Iraq and other wars. Even if only in our country, everyone did those things, that might have stopped the financial crisis, slowed the student loan monster from engulfing our children and prevented rising obesity.

His best prediction:

“Leading a good life, loving your family and helping those around you might have stopped the rising fear that has led to more and more extremist and insane political candidates, and certainly (author’s opinion), stopped the nauseating commercials. Thank goodness those will end on Tuesday.”

Things can and will change, but, not so much.

Vote on Tuesday. It does matter.

 

Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website

His book “The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You” can be instantly downloaded, for free, on his website: http://www.samakowlaw.com/book.

Samakow has now also started a small business consulting firm. His new book “Step By Step, Achieve Small Business Success” is available at www.thebusinessanswer.com.

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