Detroit’s voting conscience is being tested by the litany of Nov. 6 ballot initiatives
In less than three weeks, voters from all stripes across the country and in the state will deliver verdicts relating to the next president of the United States, judges sitting in our courts, representatives in Congress, representatives in university and college boards and ballot proposals that will affect governance in our local communities.
For Detroit and other communities, as I’ve written on this page before, voting is not only a sacrament but a true test of any community’s thirst for democracy and its preparedness to confront the future.
It would make no sense that we can have all the town hall meetings in the world, organize the largest protests in history and flood the airwaves with the most blatant and sometimes untruthful advertisements if voters don’t show up in mass numbers to vote their conscience.
In a democracy we always submit to the fact that the voice of the people is what counts in any political battle. But in reality the voice of the people is most of the time absent in political battles because people just don’t show up to vote in the numbers they should.
On Election Day, a mountain of proposals await voters, each dealing with different issues relating to how government operates, furthering quality education, collective bargaining, energy, a possible new bridge and more.
Though some of the sponsors of these proposals have done a very poor job of promoting the ideas they are selling, contributing to the confusion among voters, it still doesn’t excuse anyone from staking a position on the issues that are on the ballot.
Every ballot proposal will either hit the pocketbook of voters or determine how they are governed in their communities now and in the future.
Some of the proposals are important and they deserve an endorsement and others are plain political power play and gamesmanship. But if you are using television advertisements as your voter guide, you won’t be able to differentiate lies from fiction because that is not the benchmark for real civic awareness on these proposals.
Going by sound bites that do not offer realistic views of the issues underlying these proposals won’t help anyone make an informed decision.
That is why the solution here is the voter looking at these proposals and making informed choices.
Expecting someone to decide on your behalf whether or not you should support a particular proposal is like going to the store and expecting someone else to tell you what you need to buy.
If your pocketbook matters, then pay attention.
If you are concerned about governance and unsatisfied with the way things have been in your community, then surely demonstrate that you care by showing up at the polls.
Don’t waste time sitting somewhere ranting about how bad the system is or how crooked politicians are when you plan on being a no-show at the polls. Doing so only shows that you are part of the problem, not the solution.
The 18 proposals that voters face in this election are a referendum on the voting attitude of Detroit and other communities, where voter empowerment rallies are trump cards for negotiations with government officials, but little leverage on Election Day because few come out to vote.
Detroit needs to come out in large numbers and vote and demonstrate why the city and its residents cannot easily be written off.
If Detroiters care so much about the future of the city and the state they should show that with their vote.
Despite the repeated failings of most of our politicians and public officials who often betray the public trust like its a hobby for them, it still doesn’t abdicate you from demonstrating your civic duty because your pocketbook and voice are on the line.
In an era where numbers decide who sits at what section of the negotiating table, Detroit can enhance its stature as a formidable political and economic voice in the region if we have a 75 percent voting rate.
I would like to be shown that Detroit can indeed have a 75 percent voting rate this year.
If not, we can have all the protests in the world and chants of righteous indignation all day, but nothing will happen and change won’t come because the powers that be will rightly conclude “they won’t vote anyway.”
So what’s the urgency?
The urgency lies in deciding how this city progresses in the future and what that progress means for struggling families with their children.
The urgency demands that those who have been an intricate pillar in this city have a voice in determining how the city’s future is shaped.
Detroit, decide the proposals, don’t let the proposals decide you.