Friday, December 15, 2017
Opinion

Guest column: Voting lets us touch the future

During our July 4th Honor America Celebration in Tallahassee, where I was a Kiwanis Club volunteer, 18 of our neighbors took an oath to become naturalized U.S. citizens. It was such an emotional event, with tears of joy and hugs of accomplishment from family members, friends and complete strangers.

These proud new citizens represented five continents and 13 countries of origin. As the child of immigrants myself, I had a lump in my throat realizing that my family members went through this same process and were embraced by this destination of diversity.

When the ceremony concluded, the group marched over to a table set up for registering these freshly minted citizens as voters.

While I'm strictly nonpartisan in my advocacy for family policies that improve the odds for health, protection and lifelong success, I'm an ardent promoter of participation in all aspects of the political process. I truly believe that voting is not just a right, it's a sacred responsibility. It takes a few minutes but has an impact for years to come.

My Grandma Minnie picketed for women's suffrage as an immigrant teenage girl in New York. She voted for the first time after the 19th Amendment took effect in 1920 and never missed a vote.

Her daughter Ruth, my mother, took me to watch her and my father vote. They listened to the election results at the edge of their seats.

It's an election year. The pundits are sharpening their sound bites. The commercials, fliers and phone calls are flooding in. But it's us, the voters, who hold the power to decide who will lead our nation, our states and communities into the future

Top 10 reasons to vote

1. To honor those in our military who fight for us and our public safety officers who respond to our needs and defend the peace at home.

2. To honor people who struggled for civil rights, women's suffrage and the ideals of justice for all. Freedom needs affirmation.

3. To be a good example to our children and grandchildren by exercising the right to vote as a symbol of our faith in democracy. By voting, we signal the importance of the choices we make to secure a better future for ourselves and generations to come.

4. Voting is our society's great equalizer. No matter our station in life, every citizen over age 18 has the same power of one vote.

5. Pollsters do not determine who wins elections; voters do. Pollsters and pundits have their roles, but like each of us, they have only one vote.

6. Elections should not be about negative ads, they should be about the options we have to promote positive policy actions. Voting for candidates in whom we believe and on ballot initiatives we know will affect our future is a counterbalance to the flood of negativity polluting the airwaves and filling mailboxes.

7. Democracy is a team sport, and spectators simply don't count.

8. It's vital to be an informed voter. Pay attention to news reports and editorials. While how we vote is confidential, that we voted or failed to vote is public record. Elected officials know which individuals and demographic groups are voting, and we who do vote are more likely to be influential in policy debates. Nonvoters are voiceless and by not participating can become victims of their own neglect.

9. Regret is preventable. "Could have, should have" are sorry alternatives to acting. Have a "no excuses" attitude by committing to vote, ask others to join us in voting, and promote a positive approach to making a difference among family, friends and colleagues.

10. Every vote counts. Being a participant in affecting history gives each of us a sense of pride in participation and the power to touch the future.

Jack Levine is founder of the 4Generations Institute and is a Tallahassee-based family policy advocate. He may be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17