Vote. The future of our state and nation is riding on it

October 31, 2022 5:45 am

There are many candidates running for critical positions around the country — secretary of state, senators and representatives, governors — who brandish and brag about being election deniers (SDI Productions/Getty Images).

Voting has never been more important.

The future well-being of our state and nation may very well depend on voters making informed decisions on Nov. 8. It is imperative voters know where candidates stand on the issues that matter most.

But a candidate’s positions on issues don’t form in a vacuum or emerge out of the blue.

Positions are based on values. Values are formed from beliefs and information — good or bad, true or false, conveyed by both the well- and ill-intended interlocutors.

As you evaluate candidates’ positions on issues, also consider the values they bring to the conversation.

First, what are the overriding issues that could shape the quality of life?

There are cyclical issues that can have a temporary impact, like the health of the economy, the availability of jobs and inflation rates.

But there are also defining issues that can have long-term effects. They can alter or determine our future way of life in our state and as Americans.

One such issue is the sacred right to cast a vote without encumbrances and intimidation. It behooves each of us to know whether the persons we are voting for believe in our legal system of voting.

It matters.

Our democracy hangs in the balance on what your candidates believe.

Do your candidates believe in early voting, voting by mail, using valid forms of identification? Or, are they trying to reduce those options, make access to them as difficult as possible, if not totally eliminate them?

There are many candidates running for critical positions around the country — secretary of state, senators and representatives, governors — who brandish and brag about being election deniers. They still promote that the 2020 presidential election was a fraud when the courts at every level and all investigations have determined there is no evidence.

Are any of your candidates election deniers, promoting false beliefs and conspiracy theories that the current voting system is rigged or fraudulent? Or, are they cowards and hypocrites, refusing to say one way or the other and changing their position at will.

If they are either, you should be very concerned.

Should election deniers get in office, your vote in the future, if you are able to cast it, could be rendered invalid.

Do you care about your and future generations’ ability to vote?

Another issue with long-term, life altering, consequences is who should make the decisions about abortion and a woman’s reproductive health. Are those decisions that should be made between a woman, her God and her doctors? Or, should such decisions be dictated by some legislative body?

The issue has been defined and driven by the overriding subject of abortion, which can never be assessed, defined or decided in a vacuum or treated in a binary manner.

A woman’s reproductive health is not a black and white issue. One position or option does not fit everyone. Plus, passing unreasonable restrictive laws will not stop abortions from occurring.

What are the positions of the candidates about a woman’s reproductive health, the right to choose and whether abortion is the only overriding issue in doing what is best for women and girls?

Then there is the serious issue of growing censorship through banning books.

Many efforts are taking place to ban books in schools and libraries. Many local, state and federal candidates have made the promise of banning books part of their campaign promises.

Should a secretary of state or a state’s attorney general be in the business of performing search and seizure to have books removed from libraries and classrooms because they think they may not be politically correct?

Does it matter that those books may be addressing historical or contemporary facts and truths?

Monitoring and screening measures have been, and continue to be, in place and are administered in schools, libraries, and bookstores to ensure that books are introduced and made available to age-appropriate audiences.

Why should those decisions be taken away from parents, teachers, and librarians who are in a better position to determine what children should be exposed to?

Do you want some elected officials determining what books are available to your child  or what they can and cannot read?

Ask your candidates how they feel about banning books. Ask them what types of books they think should be banned, and why.

Suppressing voting rights, legislating women’s reproductive health and increased censorship are issues that can redefine, if not destroy, our democracy.

Know where your candidates stand and what they will work for.

But the beliefs and values of candidates are also on the ballot. Their positions on issues are direct reflections of the beliefs and values that govern their behavior.

Do you know anything about your candidates’ beliefs and values?

There are ways you can ascertain who they are by asking a few critical questions.

Start with a major one: How do they regard America, our democratic form of government, our way of life?

From the answer to that question you can follow up with many others about voting, individual rights, women’s rights, equal rights, freedom of speech and the press, gun rights.

You can determine whether your vote is going to help or hurt the future well-being of your state and the nation.

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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.