Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - In 2008 there were 40 million more people who voted that year in the US presidential election than voted in the 2010 mid-term election cycle. 40 million!
Personally, I just don't get it; but then, I was raised by a father who was the 7th soldier in to liberate the prisoners of Dachau Prison in late April 1945. My dad was also the commander of the honor guard for his American Legion Post, and week after week he left his roofing business to honor those who had fought serving their country. The whole idea of voting was not just some civics lesson in our house, this was a right that needed defending to the death if necessary, and for his generation it was far too necessary and far too common.
I wonder if US citizens remember the first day in South Africa, after Nelson Mandela had been freed by his Afrikaner enslavers, and all citizens of that country could vote for the first time. They stood in some of the longest lines imaginable, just for the right (in most of their minds, the obligation) to vote. Iraqis had a similar scene after the fall of Sadam, and when they were given an opportunity to vote, purple fingers were proudly displayed for all to see. And most recently, citizens of Afghanistan went to the polls in record numbers despite the Taliban's threats resulting in 23 deaths on April 5th and 3 more on Sunday the 6th. The right to vote is a cherished and essential part of citizenship across the world, and yet many US citizens look upon it as some sort of burden.
I fully appreciate that this upcoming US election does not carry any of those outwardly powerful impacts. Americans are, however, looking at the decline of the middle class, threats to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, stalled immigration reform legislation, road blocks to a woman's right to make decisions about her own body, science deniers who stand in the way of efforts to control climate change, and renewed efforts to undermine voting rights. Furthermore, the people elected in these upcoming elections will likely be involved in determining the direction of the Supreme Court. I am asking those US citizens who now live in Mexico and don't intend to vote in our elections to seriously reconsider that decision.
"I'm too busy" - Start by going to canivote.org, use the drop down to select the state you last voted in and determine if you need to re-register (not all states require you to re-register in 2014). Then if you need to re-register, go online to votefromabroad.org and take 10-15 minutes to fill out a registration form from the last state in which you lived, your right to vote from abroad has now been assured by law. You don't have to leave your home or your local internet café. Let's face it, we all blow off 15 minute chunks of time down here every day; heck, it's one of the reasons we are here. Also, throughout this year, members of Democrats Abroad will make themselves available to you if you are having problems registering. By law, a person of any party is welcomed to take advantage of this service. So keep an eye open for the next registration event near you.
"They aren't excited by either candidate" - Seriously!? If you are a multi-millionaire who is down here because you have gotten sick and tired of your government stealing your wealth, while bums sit home and drink beer on your dime, you have a dog in this show. If you are someone who cares about "the little people" who have watched the accumulation of wealth in America start to choke off the life-blood of the middle class, you have a dog in this show. These two parties and their candidates could not be more different one from the other. Bottom line, unless you have no feelings left for the United States of America, this mid-term election is every bit as important as the presidential election.
"My vote does not really matter" - As a human being, do you matter, or is it OK with you that any stranger that comes along can just walk all over you? Please, reconsider this one. One of the great fortunes for those of us alive today is that we were born in, or intentionally became a citizen of the USA, the most influential nation of this modern era. We may not always be very pleased with the decisions that are being made, but you are a citizen of a nation that was founded on, and has been molded by, the notion of the sanctity of the "individual." To not vote is the equivalent of looking yourself in the mirror and seeing someone who does not matter. Please, voting matters, because each and every one of us matters.
"Nothing ever gets done anyway" - Oh my goodness... the rights of African-Americans were finally recognized; the rights of women were finally recognized; the issues affecting hard working and contributing members now living in the US and who came from Mexico are on the table; the issues affecting wealth creation and having a means by which every citizen can live a decent and fulfilling life in America are on the line; issues concerning how America as a society will treat old people, handicapped people, abused children, people with pre-existing medical conditions; on and on I could go. These are highly significant questions about what America is going to be in the 21st Century. Each and every one of these issues and dozens more will get addressed in these next two years. Plenty will get done and/or blocked, one way or the other.
Preaching was not my profession, and I don't respond very well to professional preachers pointing their finger at me either. I am simply imploring you to consider just how easy it is to vote from abroad these days, and just how important you are in what happens over these next few years. The citizens of the world need you to sit down at your/a computer, go to votefromabroad.org, fill out the easy to follow FPCA (federal post card application) and register to vote.
"Be an absentee voter, not an absentee citizen."John Wilson-Bugbee is the "Get Out The Vote" Chair for the Costa Banderas Chapter of Democrats Abroad Mexico.
With country committees and local chapters in over 80 countries around the world, Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party organization for the millions of Americans living outside the United States. For more information about the Costa Banderas Chapter of Democrats Abroad, click HERE. For local assistance, contact Dee Dee Camhi, Chair, at rdcamhi(at)mac.com.