Voter apathy and suppression undermines democracy

DR. GEORGE ONUORAH | 7/11/2019, 6:44 p.m.
One of the most important rights a citizen has in a democracy is the right to vote. That right is ...
Polling station voters sign Nia Sanders

One of the most important rights a citizen has in a democracy is the right to vote. That right is considered sacred and inalienable.

In the United States such rights are taken for granted when they are often denied to citizens of countries where dictators and sit-tight leaders hug the positions they find themselves in for decades, thereby fueling, accentuating and exacerbating corruption in leadership.

But here in the U.S.A. we know better and play by the rules. Don’t we?

Enough said, living in a democracy here in the Land of Lincoln, citizens often shy away from exercising their right to vote, thereby allowing decisions impacting the lives of their families to be made by a small minority, which is not really a good thing. Those who dare to vote usually vote for leaders who share their vision or profess their ideology. So by staying outside the arena of political conversation and process, you technically are disqualifying yourself from receiving gains of political dividends. Who wants to have a minority put in power individuals who expound views that are counter to their own? So it behooves all to think twice and strive to engage and be very attentive to conversations in the community they reside in. Don’t be an alien where you

are domiciled.

One way to help boost citizen participation in politics is by civic education in local communities where many are either turned off or disengaged because of lack of knowledge about the process. People need to be shown how it works and how it is going to benefit them in the long run.

The federal, state and local governments have compulsory obligation to play pivotal roles in this education of citizens. It’s not enough to deluge folks with campaign paraphernalia weeks before elections when those who will cast votes have not been properly schooled or educated about the issues in the impending election. Citizens want to know and understand what the prevailing issues are, who is running and what is their pedigree? Our governmental institutions entrusted with managing affairs of the state shy away from one of their most important duties and must therefore be held accountable for not doing the

right thing.

The same way state governments enact laws they can equally enact laws mandating all citizens to vote in elections—why not throw in a few inducements. Any effort made to attract citizens to engage in political government is a worthy cause.

Unfortunately, we have seen aspects of voter suppression, which adversely impacts participation in the electoral process.

Good thing millennials are now eagerly and enthusiastically turned on about politics. The worst thing that can happen is anyone extinguishing their hope by suppressing their enthusiasm instead of encouraging their participation. In 2018, we saw the emergence of political novice Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who dethroned a very powerful political boss in the 14th congressional district. AOC and the increasing political power of the socialist ideology, while a good thing, has far more repercussion in our local and national politics. You don’t have to be a political pundit to know and agree that you definitely have a big gulf and schism in the Democratic Party as a result of what these young, energetic and resilient millennials are up to. Stay tuned.

“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”—Thurgood Marshall

Dr. George Onuorah is the publisher of Our World Media and author of “The Political Diary of a Rising Son.”