Commentary

Our government only can function better if we vote wisely

August 8, 2022 5:45 am

A sign at the Campus Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., tells residents where to vote on the primary election on Aug. 2, 2022 (Tessa Weinberg/Missouri Independent).

Few things are more important in determining how well our government functions than each of us taking time to become informed, and to vote wisely in selecting those who will represent us.

The primary elections in Missouri, and in most states, are over. The midterm elections are just around the corner on Nov. 8.

Wherever you live, whatever your party affiliation — or lack thereof — you have a great opportunity during this midterm election cycle to be a part of the change in government you want to see.

All of us must decide who to send to Congress to represent us in the House of Representatives. All 435 seats are up for re-election, including Missouri’s eight districts.

Are you pleased with the behavior and what members of the House have been able to achieve during the last two years?

Most of us will also be deciding on who we send to the U.S. Senate. Missourians will choose a replacement for retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

In the coming months, we will be bombarded with messages from hopeful candidates, civic organizations, political action committees, political leaders and supportive celebrities. They will be everywhere.

How are you deciding who to vote for to fill the various offices?

A lot is riding on your choices.

Whoever wins in the general election in November will determine whether we will continue to have the same divisive, vitriolic and unproductive government, or have a sea change where there is civility and compromise in state legislatures and in the U.S. Congress.

Both political parties share responsibility in what we see at the state level and Congress. But so do we because of how we voted or failed to vote.

Which changes would you like to see in your state?

What changes would you like to see in Congress?

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For example: Current members in the United States Senate have not been able to pass much needed legislation in critical areas because of the 50/50 Democratic-Republican split. While the Vice President can cast the deciding vote for legislative measures requiring a simple majority, most of the important defining and long-term legislation requires 60 Senate votes to overcome a filibuster to even allow such a bill to move to the floor for a vote.

Therefore, needed legislation that can determine the quality of our lives and that of future generations is left to linger, to be forgotten, often as conditions worsen.

Critical areas like access to affordable health care for all, immigration reform, sensible gun control measures, safe and legal access to abortion services, protection of each citizen’s right to vote, climate change and global warming and others.

These are all issue areas that the majority of Americans care deeply about whether they identify as Republican, Democrat or neither.

Too often elected officials at all levels and across party lines seem to get bogged down in partisan agendas resulting in stalemates.

Given the political climate and all the important issues that confront us as a nation, which only the U.S. Congress can address, will the candidates seeking your vote work in a bi-partisan and cooperative manner to reach solutions?

It is critically important to know where the candidates you vote for stand on these issues.

Continued failure to pass real immigration reform will negatively impact border security, workforce shortages and pathways to citizenship for Dreamers and other immigrants.

With no major action on climate change and global warming, there will be more destruction, more loss of life and livelihoods due to raging wildfires, more historic droughts, stronger hurricanes and more raging storms.

We will continue to live under the veil of fear that mass shootings can occur anywhere, with very little being done to alleviate that fear because Congress will not pass needed and sensible gun control legislation.

We will be left to wonder when the right that every citizen should be allowed to vote without encumbrances is finally put to rest, with protection from manufactured reasons and efforts to take it away. In the meantime, the threat lingers.

What will be the final and long-term resolution of the complex issues around legal abortion access?

What about every American having access to affordable health care?

These are all issues that the majority of Americans care about irrespective of party affiliation or the lack thereof.

What Congress passes is just one aspect of how well the government functions. State legislatures must do what is in their power to implement those laws and policies in the best ways that will benefit citizens who reside there.

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All 163 seats in the Missouri House are on the ballot in November, along with 17 of the 34 state Senate seats.

Do you know the positions on these issues of the candidates who are seeking to represent you in your state legislature?

You must be as confident as you can that once elected, whomever you choose will not betray you and forsake what is in the best interests of your family, community, state and the nation for the selfish agenda of political groups and big money.

There is a lot riding on who is elected at every level of government in the upcoming Midterm elections in November.

You have a final chance to bring about the change you want to see in your state legislature and Congress. Tuesday, November 8 is right around the corner.

You still have enough time to decide who to vote for to move your state and nation forward.

But only if you take time to vote. And vote wisely.

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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis

Janice Ellis has lived and worked in Missouri for more than three decades, analyzing educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. Her commentary has appeared in The Kansas City Star, community newspapers, on radio and now online. She is the author of two award-winning books: From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream (2018) and Shaping Public Opinion: How Real Advocacy Journalism™ Should be Practiced (2021). Ellis holds a Ph.D. in communication arts, and two Master of Arts degrees, one in communications arts and a second in political science, all from the University of Wisconsin.

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