The stakes are too high for Long Islanders and all Americans to sit out this coming Election Day on November 6th. Our founders certainly envisioned a society in 1776 where a majority of our citizens would exercise their right to vote. In the past 242 years, Congress had the good sense to extend voting rights to woman and of course in 1965, they passed the Voting Rights Act, granting the right to vote to Americans of color, and prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. One of the hallmark characteristics of our nation is our democracy and freedoms including, the freedom to elect leaders in government who share our beliefs and values. Siting out an election cycle regardless of whether it’s to elect a President, Members of Congress, State or County Legislature is to basically deny yourself the opportunity to participate in our democratic government.
There is too much at stake on November 6th for people not to exercise their basic right to vote. America is at a crossroads in 2018, and much will have to be decided in Washington, D.C. and Albany. The issues are too important and range from Immigration, Gun Control, Taxes, Trade, National Security, and Human Rights to name a few. There is also a great cultural and political divide in the United States, and the balance of power in the New York State Senate might just be decided on one vote, and it’s conceivable that the one vote might come from Nassau or Suffolk County.
Within the nonprofit corporate sector, we have an obligation to advocate and speak up about policies and legislation that could have a devastating impact upon people in need. Congress continues to debate the benefits of such human service programs as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, and other programs that can lift Americans out of poverty and improve access to basic health care. In addition, the values that the nonprofit industry and its workforce strive for to insure racial and gender equality, a woman’s right to make decisions about her own healthcare, school safety, improving access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, protecting people from domestic violence, providing affordable child care are at risk as we enter 2019.
The programs that were implemented by Congress under the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to name just a few are at risk of being reduced or strengthened by the next Congress. In New York State, the advances we’ve seen in relation to our infrastructure, healthcare system, gun safety, gender equality and poverty must encourage the nonprofit sector to mobilize our staff and clients to vote.
Much has been said about the alt-right, far-left and our two party system. There will be no blue wave or red wave in America if Americans don’t go to the polls on November 6th. Regardless whether you vote your conscience or your pocketbook, we must look at our right to vote as our personal obligation as citizens of the free world. The nonprofit sector has a long history of mobilizing communities and people in need to create change. On November 6th, change will undoubtedly come, and we all must be a part of it.