Primary complaint

May 11, 2016 at 10:27 am
Primary complaint

Obviously as you age, your perspective changes. Politically, as you live through more elections, you inevitably see something you truly cannot believe you are witnessing. This year, you don’t have to look far to see something truly unbelievable — the craziest new thing is we’re being Trumped.

In Kentucky, we’ve already been Bevined.

Hopefully, this will change the perspective of those who don’t think voting is important.

LEO has a story in this issue exploring the possibility of impeaching Gov. Matt Bevin. Six months after being elected, a petition has been started calling for his removal. I would love to see Bevin’s administration end before his four-year term is up. As a Kentuckian, I can’t imagine three and a half more years of Bevin’s lurching from crisis to crisis, his partisan political public-relation stunts and how he picks and chooses what is a fact. (Although as a LEO writer, I’m not sure I’ll remember what it was like without him.)

In six months, Bevin has created chaos throughout the Commonwealth’s healthcare and benefits systems, sued Planned Parenthood twice, provided $18 million in tax breaks for the privately-owned Ark Encounter and $11 million in road funding to build highways to the park (all the while claiming we can’t afford things like higher education, Waterfront Park funding, indigent care in Jefferson County, preschool expansion and expanded cancer screenings).

And we aren’t even through the first quarter.

For the next three years, Kentuckians will have to suffer through battles over right-to-work legislation, tax reform, charter schools, a new healthcare delivery platform, contracted Medicaid coverage and continued budget reductions. That is not to mention the Bevin-vs.-Beshear battle, both the former governor and Attorney General Andy Beshear (the latter possibly Bevin’s next opponent).

So, another classic political cliché you can expect to hear after every election is some iteration of: “The voters have spoken!” or, “This is a clear mandate from the voters …” Even when only three out of 10 registered voters actually shows up to vote — as was the case with the election of Bevin — the victor will claim a clear mandate to implement his or her agenda (which is exactly what happened for Bevin, despite only receiving 16 percent of all registered voters’ votes).

Now, I know that I must suspend belief to think this note applies to you because only a natural disaster will keep the thoughtful, intelligent, engaged (and beautiful, if I may,) LEO readers from voting. But I’m fascinated to find that some Americans don’t vote. I don’t say this disparagingly. One of my best friends explained that going to vote, particularly in a non-presidential election, was just not something that was ingrained in him as a kid. It was not part of his family’s culture.

I have never missed a vote: not a presidential, congressional or even a primary election. Voting was an absolute in my family’s culture. I went with dad to vote before school, and I remember fondly — enthusiastically — going to the fire station to watch him fill in the bubbles. To this day, I’m still excited every time I walk into my polling location and fill out my ballot.

A favorite campaign cliché, usually declared by the challenging candidate or party, is, “We can’t survive another four years of …” I was guilty of this during Bush’s reelection campaign, only to hear the same argument made four years later about Obama. Let me just say, if America can survive eight years of President Bush The Younger, we can survive just about anything — even Bevin.

But we shouldn’t have to just survive. We shouldn’t have to wait four years before getting to express our disapproval. In fact, we don’t have to wait. And no, the answer is not a petition. The answer is that elections happen every two years, not just every four.

I would imagine that everyone who has signed the petition to recall Bevin also voted last November. That said, I can’t get over the sick irony that people now want to recall Bevin, when all we needed to do was show up to vote. It would have been so much easier to avoid the Bevin-created-crises if people just showed up to vote. Similarly, for those who don’t vote, it is a lot easier to be engaged and vote than it is to not vote and spend years complaining about the results.

So please, show up and vote, and maybe there won’t be as much to complain about.