Tuesday, October 12, 2004

"Vote or Die"
By Salvador Gabor



Are we dead? Really........are we dead? It's an ultimatum........"Vote or Die"! For many of us, if we had to choose between the two to describe what we've done with our civic right and duty, we've essentially chosen the latter. We've been "DEAD" for years. I'm 25 years old. I've been eligible to vote on all levels for 7 years now. Yet, I've never done so. None of my friends go to the polls. No one that I personally know makes a serious effort to go to the polls. If it's convenient that day, they will vote. If not.......oh well. But, what really catches my eye is that there are millions of others JUST like me, who have taken the right to vote as nonchalant or even moreso than I have.

Why do you die when you don't vote? Well it's simple. You don't vote and that leads the politicians to forget about you and your whole existence. Sure, they know that there are housing projects, crime infested and poverty strickened neighborhoods. Surely they exist in the minds of the political powerhouses. But, when we don't show up to the polls, it makes them get convenient amnesia when it comes to solving our problems. At the end of elections, results come back and the number of voters in comparison to the number of citizens in certain urban areas or WAY OFF. So in the minds of our leaders, we ARE "dead". Out of sight, out of mind. It's that simple.

Well, why don't we become "alive" and vote? We don't see a need to. We feel that change doesnt come at a poll. And that is correct but, it's a beginning. I used to have mixed feelings about voting but, the overall outlook on the ramifications of the future have changed my views. We DO have a need to go out and vote. But, we are stuck in a mentality that is not one of successful people. Successful people plant seeds and WAIT for them to grow. All the while, they are nurturing the land that they have planted their seed in. We as an urban culture have been tricked, jerked and fooled into believing false promises given to us by leaders in the past. Rowled up so many times, only to be let down, we have an excuse to be angry and fed up. We have an excuse NOT to vote because we don't think things will change. But, in order to be successful, a seed has to be planted.

That fruit wont appear tomorrow, nor the next day. But, later it will appear. Many of us find it hard to look beyond this calendar date but, no one WANTS to die tonight. No one WANTS to think they won't be here tomorrow. When we lay down, we plan to wake up. It doesnt always work that way but, we DO make some plans to see another day. With that mentality in place, we must take that theory to another level and plant the seed today that blossoms into the fruit of tomorrow. Voting today makes a change for tomorrow. "Tommorrow" in a sense goes beyond 24 hours from now. "Tomorrow" deals with the future. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Who will decide what is available to you in 10 years? Will you be able to afford to live in 15 years? These are all questions that can be answered by voting. So you wanna be an entreprenuer huh? Seems like everybody does. You gotta pay taxes, you gotta have real estate and you have to be concerned with the state of commerce in this country as an entreprenuer. All these things controlled by politicians who pass or veto bills that revolve around business. And where you want to be in 5 years, what will be available to you in 10 years and will you be able to afford to live in 15 years revolves around what you do. And a large percentage of our successful people in this world become a succes through ownership of business and business owners rely on policies laid down by politicians to maintain success.

How can you complain, when you had nothing to do with the politicians being in office or being kicked out? How can you complain when the housing prices are up or the taxes are up in you didn't make a choice? We as urban people live in a culture where we want results now and we don't want to be the ones to put forth the effort. Once again, due to our bad experiences in the past, we have an excuse to feel this way. But, will that make it better? I doubt it. We are expecting millions of NEWLY registstered voters to go to the polls this year. Many of those are people whose make up and background are that of people from the ghetto, slums and middle class neighborhoods of america. People who have new issues and problems that need to be addressed. Issues and problems that have been ignored because politicians have looked at you as being "Dead". Imagine 10 Million new voters hitting the polls. Imagine how AFTER the election, both parties will be scrambling to collect data on the demographics of these new voters? Imagine that the effect of new voters in the urban communities becomes so vast that in 2008, we see clips of presidential candidates doing debates in Harlem, Southeast D.C., Uptown New Orleans and Dade County Florida. Imagine candidates shaking hands in South Philly, Compton, Watts, Southside Chicago and 5th Ward in Houston instead of JUST Iowa, Michigan and South Dakota. It's a crazy thought. But, if we as NON-voters turn the corner and get over the hump and take out a few minutes to wait in a line and vote for whoever (it doesnt matter, just vote), the next time around, we won't have to find the candidates, they will find us. If you're tired of being walked over and looked past like a dead body in a grave, then wake up. Become alive. It's either VOTE OR DIE.