Don’t sit this one out: The alarms are ringing all around us

‘As flawed as our democracy is, it remains the envy of the world because we are empowered to change it and mold it into the America we envision when we vote,’ said political consultant Gayle Andrews.


TALLAHASSEE — Americans are quick to say: “I don’t get involved in politics,” or “I hate politics.” They are the faithful who recite the doctrine as though it were biblical verse. They fail to realize that our love-hate relationship with politics is a consequence of day-to-day life in the greatest democracy in the world.

Here’s the definition of politic: seeming sensible and judicious under the circumstances, and political is defined as shrewdness in managing and sagacious in promoting a policy. And while most folks don’t see themselves as political players, virtually everything we do socially, professionally, and personally is political. Every day we’re engaged in finagling to get our way or find a compromise to seal a deal.

But the freedoms we enjoy stem from a governing framework and elections, where we call the plays. Far from a spectator sport, the importance of running a democracy is lost on most people.

We would rather complain and make excuses than engage in our civic duty. It’s tantamount to ignoring a pandemic and hoping it goes away. But the genius of democracy is simple. Every registered voter, no matter what color, age, rich or poor, has a voice. “One man, one vote” is the great equalizer and a powerful weapon for change.

As flawed as our democracy is, it remains the envy of the world because we are empowered to change it and mold it into the America we envision when we vote. It doesn’t matter who you vote for; it is about having the freedom to choose your representation.

During campaigns, I often think of an election I worked in the early 90s in Daytona Beach. There was a Black lady who was in her 80s handing out palm cards at a precinct. Back then, poll watchers were allowed to be stationed about 50 feet from the door entry.

Well, I was checking precincts, and I saw her sitting in a chair handing out the cards. I parked around the corner, came back, and saw her moving her chair farther away from the door. I asked why she was moving, and she pointed to some young men wearing black armbands walking around snickering. I moved her back and tried to console her, but she was terrified. They were patrolling all the Black precincts using the same tactics. I finally called the office of Attorney General Bob Butterworth, and he dispatched sheriff’s deputies to monitor the precincts, and I took the lady home.

I often see the guy who led the Daytona Beach crew, and I think about that frightened elderly lady. She was a symbol of the power of one man, one vote. It is why voter suppression is still a tool 30 years later because she dared to vote and was a threat. The alarms are ringing all around us. Silence them with your vote.

Gayle Andrews is a former Capitol Press Corps member and a corporate and political media consultant. She has consulted on presidential, US Senate, congressional and gubernatorial campaigns since 1989.  

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