Let’s address the biggest fake news out there right now.
“Voting doesn’t matter.”
Not what you expected right? But this is one piece of fake news I hear far too often these days and we need to put a stop to it right now.
Voting DOES matter. When we show up. Larry Sabato says in Pendulum Swing, “every election is determined by those who show up.” He is 100 percent right.
But I understand, and completely empathize with, the frustration, disillusionment and lack of hope that has been growing in so many of us lately.
You seldom see a candidate that truly excites you make it past the primaries, and often even though you do your due diligence and vote, you still see no change to the issues in which you are invested.
Does this sound familiar? If so, I invite you to reframe your view of voting. Don’t just look at why your vote matters, consider the consequences of not voting. One significant result is that decisions get made that do not reflect the wishes of the majority because saner minds stayed home on voting day.
Voting is literally the least you can do. If you are frustrated by the system and how slow change is happening, you, we all, must get more involved. And the next two months are critical for each of us to step up to the plate and not just vote ourselves, but get as many people out to vote as possible.
I won’t lie to you. We are going to have to work hard to see the change we want to happen. We are going to have to be better citizens for our communities and the country. And we won’t always get the rewards we want to see, but change can happen if we all show up.
Presidential elections get all of the hype, but it’s the folks being voted on in midterm elections that do the work that most likely impacts your life. In the 2018 midterms 50.3% of eligible voters voted and that was considered high. Let that sink in. Half was considered high! I repeat, our lawmakers are chosen by those who show up.
Are you happy with the laws being passed in the Ohio Statehouse? In Congress? If not, make sure you vote. Ohio has key races for U.S. Congress and the Governor’s office, and the Ohio House and Senate, this fall. Vote.
But in addition to voting, I ask you, especially this year, to volunteer some time to help the voting process. The last day to register to vote in Ohio is Tuesday, October 11. Volunteer for causes that help register voters, become a poll worker, host a postcard writing campaign, make some calls. You don’t need to give up your life to help, but if we don’t each lend a few hours more of the things we care about in life could be taken away. Again, consider the consequences of NOT voting, and of not doing anything to encourage others to make their voices heard.
Why do I vote? I vote because it is literally the least I can do, and I’m NOT OK with doing nothing. I vote because I know it takes all of us to make our democratic system stronger. I vote because I genuinely believe that there are people running for office now that hold the promise of change in their hands, and the future to a better nation for all of us.
I know the power of our collective efforts. Prior to and during the pandemic, our collective voices made sure that critical funds came to the arts on the local, state and national level. Our support of and advocacy for issues such as the Columbus Cultural Fee and American Rescue plan funds made the difference in many artists lives and in stability of our arts organizations. I know when we work together we can make change.
Because the Greater Columbus Arts Council believes so strongly in the power of collective action and activating and engaging the creative sector in voting and exercising their voice, we are launching ArtsVote Ohio, a non-partisan Get Out The Vote effort in partnership with Americans for the Arts Action Fund and Ohio Citizens for the Arts.
No matter where you engage in the creative sector—as an artist, a staff member of an arts organization or a patron or donor, ArtsVote Ohio can give you the tools to get engaged and help amplify this year’s critical GOTV efforts.
Visit ArtsVoteOhio.org for resources and more information on how to vote, get involved and to promote your GOTV efforts.
Together we can do this.
Tom Katzenmeyer, president & CEO of Greater Columbus Arts Council, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.