Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Nashville Politics: More Campaign Signs Than Voters
After several weeks on the road, I was thankful for being home long enough to make a trip to Howard School to cast my vote early. Voting on the first day of early voting has been a tradition for me. This year was one of those rare occasions because of my travel schedule; I was not able to vote on the first day. Voting early has been one of my ways of showing respect and honor for my grandfather’s lifelong civil rights activism. I made a vow to him once; I would never take my right to vote for granted. I must admit during my early years of voting, I was more concerned about not disappointing my grandfather than cherishing my right to vote. But by the time I became a young mother in my early twenties, voting became an act done because of my own value system that was developing. I am thankful for the foundation that my grandparents and parents helped form and the seeds that have taken root that has shaped me to believe that there are very few, if any, excuses for not voting.
When I arrived at Howard School, the parking lot was overflowing with campaign signs. Every political candidate on the ballot had at least two to three signs. There were also signs for the signs to remind the folks on the signs running for political office not to get their signs too close to the building where folks must vote. There were signs pointing the way to vote for those on the signs. Upon entering the building, there were more signs showing you where to stand in order to cast your ballot for any number of the sign owners.
With all the signs outside, one would think I would have been in a line around the parking lot. But instead of bodies of eager voters, there were only signs begging people to cast their votes. There were even more poll workers and employees than voters as well. As my heart filled with dismay, I could not help but ask one of the staffers about the early voter turnout traffic with so many signs outside. With a sigh, the staffer informed me that “the signs outnumbered the voters every day”. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks as I felt tears swell in my eyes. I tried hard to not cry on the spot as I began thinking of those who had fought and died for so many to have the privilege to vote.
My moment of sadness turned to disdain quickly when I thought of the number of individuals that have given interviews about voter suppression, yet the potential suppressed did not bother to show up to vote. Do I think it is right to find every nook and cranny by every barely gray and crooked endeavor to make it difficult for those to vote? No, I hate it with a passion. Do I believe in purging voters from voter rolls to swing voters one way or another? Absolutely, not. But I am surely not supporting individuals, groups, and organizations who sit back and not address constituents of any given community who will not show up to vote even if their lives depended on it. It is time to have candid conversation without any filters.
I "vote my interest". My family and friends hear me say this often. I vote for individuals who are concerned about what matters most in my life. Period. Nationally and regionally. National races are important but at the end of the day, folks elected to local and state offices affect my life and business more profoundly than those who go to DC. What do politicians in DC do anyway? Nothing. Absolutely, nothing.
In Nashville, sadly, local races rarely get large voter turnouts. The reasons are varied as the stars above. But when one deliberately chooses not to vote, your voice is useless in society in my opinion. Not voting is not limited to economics or race. I know many wealthy individuals, shamefully, who do not vote. And in the same vain of shamelessness, I also know far too many voters of color (who would not have been able to vote forty years ago) who do not vote as well.
I believe strongly voting comes down to an individual's value system about life. If you value voting, you vote. When you do not value voting, you will not show up to the polls even if your Mama was on the ballot.
Often times, those who value voting the least, voices need to be heard the most in a country that will overlook the voiceless quickly.
Below is a summary of the early voter turnout for Metro Nashville-Davidson County. Numbers don't lie.