Brad’s Banter: Informed voting and joining the forty percent

Two hundred fifty years ago, American colonists believed having representation in government was so important they took up arms to fight for it.

In 1870, newly-freed slaves argued for and gained the right to vote, and women were finally granted suffrage in 1920 after decades of campaigning.

Today less than half the population, about 40 percent, cares to exercise their right and duty to vote in midterm elections.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” says Mark Hernandez, an audio engineering student at San Jac, “We are screwed either way.”

That feeling of disenfranchisement is not unique to Hernandez. It’s a common excuse for skipping the trip to the polls. Many feel Congressmen represent corporate interest before they represent their constituents.

Citizens United v Federal Election Commission sought to help restore the public’s trust in their elected officials by limiting how funds raised by non-profit organizations are spent on elections.

Beginning in Jan. 2010, Political Action Committees, called PACs and sometimes Super PACs, could take in undisclosed contributions, even from corporate profits, to spend at their discretion. This means that a corporation favoring one candidate can legally spend millions of dollars funding ads for their candidate, or on attack ads against their opponent; thus giving corporate interest a hand up on the People when choosing our nation’s leaders.

With the failure to overturn the Citizens United ruling in early September, the feeling of disenfranchisement is unlikely to change anytime soon.

However, as citizens of the United States of America, and being that we are – in the purest sense, the truest proprietors of our country – we have only ourselves to blame for the deterioration of the public’s trust in elected officials.

Left vs. Right, Democrat vs. Republican has been the primary, and in some cases the only, choice Americans have had to make when choosing their representation in the House and the Senate for many, many years.

In the last election cycle, over 90 percent of the vote went to either of the two major parties, and if you look at a map, it’s not hard to see the strong correlation between where a person lives and how they vote.

Growing up in small-town Texas, I was taught to believe that certain things are infallibly true. Country music is good, old people are always right, and the Democratic Party is full of commies. Had I instead been raised in upstate New York, I may have spent more time listening to the Grateful Dead and complaining about the Nazis in the Right wing running the country into the ground.

Somehow belonging to a political persuasion has become just as dear to one’s heart as their religion, heritage, or family.

Luckily, being a voter doesn’t require changing your name, moving to a location more sympathetic to your way of life, or going through any conversion or affirmation ceremony. All you have to do is vote. And today, it is easier to know your candidates than ever before.

Numerous non-profit organizations, with no political affiliation, have set up websites aiming to provide all the information you need to make the right choice for you at the polls. lets you answer questions about your political, social, and economic beliefs and matches you up with the candidates you are closest aligned to. gives you access to your candidate’s voting records, and will tell you just how your candidate is funded. will tell you if you are registered, how to register, and what you need to take with you in order to cast your ballot.

This November, vote. Regardless of how pointless you may think it is. Be proud to vote, and be proud to make an informed decision.