Editorial: You voted; what’s next?
What now? This election ignited extraordinary interest and energy among voters, invigorating grass-roots activism and sending record numbers to the polls in North Carolina and other states.
In Rowan County, almost 62,000 people voted, or about 68 percent of those eligible. That’s a lot of feet on the ground, a lot of hands grasping the levers of power.
Having done your civic duty, does that mean you can go home now and relax, taking comfort that ó whether your favored candidates won or lost ó you’ve fulfilled the responsibilities of citizenship and can now leave things to the hands of those elected? We hope not.
While politics may be a spectator sport in this country, involvement in the community shouldn’t be. And it would be a shame if the energy generated by this election were simply allowed to dissipate, fading away like the smoky trail of fireworks winking out in the sky. Imagine how Rowan County and our local community might benefit if even a small portion of the energy put into driving up the vote were now channeled into other useful areas. We could offer a list of those areas, but instead we’re rather hear your ideas. We’d like to know what you, personally, are doing or plan to do to improve the lives and living conditions of your fellow citizens. What tangible projects are you taking up ó or would you urge others to take up ó to improve our community?
We want to hear your ideas. Given the vaunted activism of young voters, who organized voter drives on local college campuses and even traveled collectively to the polls, we’d especially like to hear how young people are carrying their electoral enthusiasm forward. Turnout by those under 30 in the 2008 primaries and caucuses nearly doubled that of eight years ago, according to the University of Maryland’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which studies youth voting patterns. If you were among the youth wave that helped “Rock the Vote,” how are you going to “rock the community”?
We’re not looking for generic suggestions such as “improve the schools” or “pave over our potholes” (worthy ideas though they may be). We’re talking about specific actions that individuals can take on their own, without waiting for the gears of government to creak into action or bureaucratic bodies to hold meetings, ponder and pontificate. Maybe this involves volunteer opportunities that already exist ó or perhaps you have an idea for a bold, new, grass-roots initiative.
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What now? That’s up to you.