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Tammy Messina: Abstaining from voting not an option

Right here, right now

Posted: July 27, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 26, 2012 9:18 p.m.
 

A couple of weeks ago, The Signal published a story titled, “Alaska town’s mayor is a cat.” While the story was probably intended to add a little humor to our local paper, there is a very real issue behind it.

The story didn’t include much detail except to say that Stubbs the cat was elected mayor 15 years ago when residents didn’t like any of the candidates on the ballot.

Most of us have probably been there, facing a ballot that doesn’t have that “perfect” candidate listed. But is there really such a thing? Is it even realistic to expect that any person’s ideology will line up with everything I stand for?

And if they do, how many other people are they not going to line up with? There aren’t many people who agree with my way of thinking 100 percent of the time. So what’s a constituent to do?

I know there are often more than two candidates on the ballot for any given office, but unfortunately, for now, the smaller parties (Libertarian, Green, etc.) just don’t have enough of a following to stand a fighting chance. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just focus on the two major parties for now.

In November, we’ll have two top contenders to consider on our local ballots: one Democrat, one Republican.

Us Republicans have just been through one of the most contentious primaries, at all levels of office, that I’ve ever seen. After having seen everyone’s dirty laundry, constituents can find it difficult to get behind any candidate for the upcoming general election. But basically, you have three choices:

1. Vote for the Republican candidate

2. Vote for the Democratic candidate

3. Don’t vote at all

Only you know what you stand for and what your core beliefs are. You have to evaluate each candidate and determine which one lines up most closely.

If you are truly a Republican with conservative values ­— including anti-abortion and traditional family values — it will be difficult, if not impossible, to vote for a Democrat. The chasm is just too great a divide.

Now the question remains, can you get behind the Republican Party nominee? I hear many people say they cannot. And they have very valid concerns that can be listed in great detail.

What happens if enough people decide not to vote at all? It’s a sheer numbers game. The fewer Republican votes that are cast for any given position, the easier it is for the Democrat to potentially take the position.

Sure, you’re only one vote. But every vote is counted and you’re not the only one voting ... or not voting. It all adds up. Not voting at all is almost as good as casting a vote for the Democrats.

My belief system admonishes me to be involved in the selection of our government representatives, which means I need to know my candidates and what they stand for and I have to vote. Abstaining is not an option because that would be simply throwing away the right you have as an American citizen that our forefathers and military fight for and protect every day.

Sure, writing in “Stubbs the cat” for “name the position” is really a fourth option, but it would essentially be the same as not voting at all, and that is not an option.

It’s our responsibility to make the tough choices because they will have long-lasting impacts on the laws governing our entire nation.

Tammy Messina is a resident of Santa Clarita, a local business owner, and a producer for The Real Side Radio Show. She can be reached at tammy@therealside.com.

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