To the Editor:
Next Tuesday, Nov. 4, Virginians will choose their next Senator and members of Congress. Even though the outcome of the election will determine which Party controls the House and Senate for the next two years, many Virginians will choose to stay at home, figuring that their vote won’t make a difference given the gridlock in Washington. Others, mainly Independents, will try to rise above partisanship, saying they are voting for the person, not the Party. I urge both groups to reconsider.
To those who plan to stay home, I hear you! I’ve been active in politics since I was 12 years old, and can vouch for the fact that politics and politicians can be disappointing. But remember that sitting out an election is the same as voting for the winning candidate and their Party – whether you like them or not. If you care about what’s at stake — expanding health coverage to those who can’t afford it, fighting attempts by those like Ted Cruz to deny equal rights to women or gays and lesbians, standing up for civil rights, protecting voting rights from discriminatory laws, and standing up against special interests who want to cut the deficit on the backs of working families — you must cast your vote.
To my Independent friends, I commend you for bucking today’s hyper-partisanship and considering each candidate on their own merits. The unfortunate truth, though, is that a vote for the person is a vote for their Party. Politics is a team sport. The first vote your newly elected Senator or Representative will cast next January – how to organize the House or Senate – is their most important one. It determines which Party controls the chamber, has majority control of every committee, who chairs those committees, and, ultimately, what legislation and amendments the full House or Senate will even consider. When you’re tempted to vote for a “moderate” Republican who has an independent streak, just remember their chance to exercise the independence you so admired during the campaign will be limited in office by an agenda set by the most extreme members of their Party.
This election is too important to sit out or to turn a blind eye to the realities of party politics. So I urge you: go to the polls and cast your vote for the party that will fight for your values.