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Informed voting does matter


June 5, 2014

By G. Michael Dobbs
news@thereminder.com

A generation ago civics classes were a staple of American education. The idea was that young people should understand how the government works so that when they reach voting age they will be able to make informed decisions.

Of course, hand-in-hand with that concept was another: that voters would take their charge seriously enough to research their decisions and make it to the polls to participate.

Today, civics classes have gone the way of the dinosaur and attendance at the polls has plummeted. People pay closer attention to Kim and Kanye than they do the activities of their local, state and federal governments. That is, until they read some posting on Facebook and then they become outraged.

A prime example of lack of involvement are the proposed cuts at Westover Air Reserve Base (WARB). The base is a huge economic driver in Western Massachusetts. It has been the subject of millions of dollars in upgrades from the federal government in the past few years. It has one of the finest runway facilities on the east coast and has played a significant role in the wars in the Middle East.

And yet, it is suffering cuts thanks to sequestration.

Congressman Richard Neal and other members of our Congressional delegation are in the middle of an effort to convince Air Force brass that the cuts could be made elsewhere and that Westover’s role is vital to our region and nation.

I hope they will be successful, but we wouldn’t be in this position if the members of the Congressional “Super Committee” hadn’t failed in their efforts to find savings in the federal budget.

Have there been any repercussions for those members of Congress? Are they still getting their paycheck at the same level as before? Does the American public hold their feet to their fire to ensure action? Do voters actually care that members of Congress set aside partisan issues to get a job done?

What do you think?

There is plenty of handwringing and outrage in the nation. The American public will always rise to the occasion if they think their ox is being gored, but that reaction is fleeting and frequently the product of misinformation.

A meme on Facebook shouldn’t be the sole basis for a political opinion.

With the looming mid-term elections, one has to wonder – or in my case, pray – that voters actually realize how important being informed about issues really is and that voting does matter.

My cynical side tells me that with recent Supreme Court decisions about the role of corporation in elections and that money equals free speech that elections have become lopsided battles.

I am enough of a political Pollyanna though to believe that eventually we will see a return to balance. Thomas Jefferson believed in the ability of the electorate and said, “Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights.”

I would like to think he was right.

Support a great idea
I love it when people come up with an idea, devise a plan and implement it. I admire people who strive to innovate and gamble on a new idea. That, to me, is the American way.

That’s why I want to plug my good friend and former colleague Natasha Clark’s Indiegogo campaign to expand her Lioness Magazine, an online publication for female entrepreneurs.

Natasha said, “Our startup began because female entrepreneurs didn’t have a home. Mainstream entrepreneur magazines are geared toward men – from their style to their content, their publishers admit that more than 60 percent of their readers are?males. Even though female entrepreneurship is rapidly on the rise and even though in 2013 female-owned companies generated more than $1.3 trillion, there was still no mainstream magazine for these women, until now.

“We did a soft launch of Lioness in August 2011 and since then we have been read by more than 3,000 people (79 percent of our readers are women). With the launch of the new LionessMagazine.com, we’re able to provide daily content, bring advice from some of the best women around the world and in the process do something groundbreaking – establish Lioness as the leading digital magazine for female entrepreneurs.”

Go to www.indiegogo.com/projects/lioness-magazine and consider helping Natasha reach her goal.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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