Advance View: Vote first step into democracy

The easiest, fastest, and most important first step towards getting involved in the democratic process is to vote.

There’s certainly more to democracy than just voting, but it’s a good way to get started… and once you get into it, you’ll quickly realize that there’s more to voting than just casting a ballot on election day, too.

Voting only works – democracy only works – if you know something about the candidates who have put their names up for election. To do it right, you’ll need to pay attention for the next few weeks of election campaigning.

We’ll be offering you information about the candidates in our news and opinion columns. And many will offer some information about themselves through advertising, appearing at special functions aimed at bringing candidates and voters together, and perhaps in some cases, through some old-fashioned door-knocking or telephone calls.

The election signs that will soon start cropping up all over the place may seem annoying – but they really do serve a purpose: they enhance name recognition for the candidates, and they remind all of us that an important process that underpins our relatively free and open society is underway.

We’re not going to get into those trite condemnations, like, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,” or, “If you don’t like who you’ve got to vote for, then run for office yourself.”

In a real democracy, you always have a right to complain – although you’re whittling away at your own credibility by not putting full effort into your complaining. Besides, why complain when you can do something concrete about your concerns?

We know that not everyone can stand for office, either. It’s not everyone’s style, and it costs time or money that not all of us are able to muster. But if you do have the resources and the inclination, nominations don’t close until 4 p.m. on Friday.

Even if voting is the least you can do, it’s also the best you can do.

–B.G.

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