For the second time in my life I had the opportunity to meet with someone actively running for President. Bill Weld was on the Cape yesterday and we spent a little under an hour talking about the issues of importance on Cape Cod. The significance of the conversation had less to do with the likelihood that Governor Weld will be the next President; he probably won’t be. What was important was that we were participating in the process. The American experiment in self-governance—and make no mistake about it, this is an ongoing experiment—relies upon the active participation of the citizenry to work. There are at least two essential ingredients: informed and public-spirited people willing to run for office, and citizens willing to engage in the discussion and express their interests and values by voting. Governor Weld is doing his part by running a race that no one realistically thinks he will win, but he recognizes that voters should have a choice.
With candidates in place, that leaves the rest of us to decide if we are going to fulfill our obligation. Ideally, we should all become educated in the issues and evaluate the candidates’ positions and not just vote, but also work to support the person we each think to be the best choice. At a minimum, all that is required of us is to fill in a little circle and drop a piece of paper in a ballot box. That is not a heavy lift and it is something we should all commit to doing not only on March 3, but in our upcoming spring town elections as well.
I recently had it suggested to me that things are as they are and pushing back adds to the polarization of society. “Go with the flow, maybe take a Xanax and tone it down a bit,” I was told, “or else those in power will punish us all for pushing back on policies objectively bad for the Cape.” While no one should like the rancor and meanness of the times, the experiment of American governance is predicated on the electorate pushing for better. The whole system of self-governance collapses on itself if people don’t exercise their right to question those in power and to push for better. The most fundamental expression of support for the basic principles of democracy is voting, so start with that on March 3. It’s not like I’m asking you to go stand in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square, but perhaps you ought to think about that guy the next time you are not inclined to vote.